When you buy Sake for the first time, you might feel overwhelmed by the wide range of Sake types. Sake can be quite complicated with all the information and many different types. But fear not, just ask yourself three questions. If you can tell these three keywords to a Sake sommelier or a shop attendant, it is more likely that you can get something that suits your taste. The three factors are:

  1. Fruity Aroma (Fruity aroma or Non-fruity aroma)
  2. Body (Full-bodied or Light-bodied)
  3. Aftertaste (Long aftertaste or Short aftertaste)



For starters, keep those three factors in mind when drinking Sake and find something you like. They will help you when you buy Sake.


 1. Fruity Aroma

First of all, do you want Sake with fruity aroma like apple, banana, etc.? This fruity aroma in Sake is called ‘Ginjo-ka’ (吟醸香) and often included in Ginjo type Sake. On the other hand, Junmai type Sake usually has the savory steamed-rice-like aroma or non-fruity aroma.

2. Body

Next, do you like full-bodied or light-bodied Sake? Full-bodied Sake is powerful and strong in Umami flavor. Light-bodied Sake is rather easier to drink and clean flavors.

Full-bodied Sake includes:

Light-bodied Sake includes:

      • Pasteurized Sake type (Hiire-shu 火入れ酒)
      • Added Alcohol type like Honjozo (本醸造)

 3. Aftertaste

Lastly, do you like a long aftertaste or short aftertaste? Some Sake lingers in your mouth even after you swallow Sake, leaving aroma and taste. And the others have little to no aftertaste. The taste pretty much disappears once you swallow it. Generally Junmai types have longer aftertaste and Added Alcohol types have shorter aftertaste.

There are of course exceptions but as a general guideline, this can be useful when you buy Sake for the first time. For example, you could ask for Sake like ‘Full-bodied Sake with fruity aroma and short aftertaste’ or ‘Light-bodied Sake with non-fruity aroma and long aftertaste’. Telling the three factors will increase the chance of getting Sake you would like.

Here is the standard guide for Sake type, according to the three factors.

Fruity Aroma + Full-Bodied + Long Aftertaste how-to-choose-sake_2

Muroka/Genshu/Kimoto + Junmai Ginjo type

(Unfiltered/Undiluted/Natural Lactic Acid)



Fruity Aroma + Full-Bodied + Short Aftertaste

Muroka/Nama/Genshu + Ginjo type



how-to-choose-sake_4Fruity Aroma + Light-Bodied + Long Aftertaste

Junmai Ginjo type



how-to-choose-sake_5Fruity Aroma + Light-Bodied + Short Aftertaste

Ginjo type



how-to-choose-sake_6Non-Fruity Aroma + Bold + Long Aftertaste

Muroka/Genshu/Kimoto + Junmai type

(Unfiltered/Undiluted/Natural Lactic Acid)


how-to-choose-sake_7Non-Fruity Aroma + Bold + Short Aftertaste

Muroka/Nama/Genshu + Honjozo type



how-to-choose-sake_8Non-Fruity Aroma + Light + Long Aftertaste

Dry Junmai type



how-to-choose-sake_9Non-Fruity Aroma + Light + Short Aftertaste

Honjozo type



If you want to know more about Sake types, go to our sake types page for details.

So keep them in mind when you buy Sake, it would be easier for you to get something with your taste. But remember there are always exceptions. So don’t forget to try something new!

This post is for Sake beginners, especially for those who are going to buy Sake for the first time. There are more factors to consider when you buy Sake. If you are keen to learn about Sake more, check out our other posts.