Have you heard of ‘ Sparkling Sake ’ before? Yes, Sparkling SAKE. Not sparkling wine. Sparkling is becoming increasingly popular in the last decade.
Now with 100+ different brands of Sparkling Sake available, you’ve got to try one if you haven’t already!
Want to know which Sparkling Sake Brand to Start with? Here’s Top 10 Sparkling Sake You Can’t Miss!
What is Sparkling Sake?
First of all, what is Sparkling anyway?
Obviously, it’s Sake with bubbles (carbon dioxide). But it’s more than that. Here are some characteristics of Sparkling Sake:
1. Low Alcohol Content
It tends to have a lot lower alcohol content than normal Sake. ABV of Sparkling is mostly under 10%. But it can range from 4 to 16%.
2. Sweet and a bit of Sour taste
The flavors of Sparkling Sake vary depending on the style of the Sparkling Sake. It ranges from authentic Sake flavor to more soft-drink-like flavor. But Sparkling mostly has a nice sweet taste with a bit of sourness.
The sweetness comes from rice and a lot of Sparkling has no added sugar, as their ingredients are the same as normal Sake, i.e. rice, rice koji, yeast and water.
3. Easy to Drink
It is easier to drink with the low alcohol content and the sweet taste, compared to normal Sake. Normal Sake has rather high alcohol content and its distinct flavor is possibly not for everyone. However, Sparkling Sake opens up a whole new style to the line of Sake. It may be too light and fresh for some Sake lovers with a liking for rich Sake.
4. New Type of Sake
Sparkling Sake has actually been around for a while but with the trend of Sparkling Sake lately, its style has expanded so much in the last few years, with over 100 brands. The Sake with still active lees or yeast inside the bottle is usually bubbly. But the new line of Sparkling has low alcohol and strong bubbles. This is because a new production method has been found to make low alcohol Sake.
Most Sake is diluted down to lower the alcohol content, but to lower the alcohol level down from 20% to under 10% badly affects the quality of Sake. So brewers couldn’t make low alcohol Sake. In recent years, a new method to brew low alcohol Sake has been found. Since then, a lot of Sake breweries began making Sparkling Sake in hope to expand the range of consumers.
Sparkling Sake has been popular among the Sake beginners, females and young adults. So, if you have never tried Sake or don’t like Sake, Sparkling may be the first choice!
Making Process of Sparkling Sake
Now you may be wondering how they make Sake sparkling. All the Sake actually contains bubbles once. As the yeast eats sugar, it releases carbon dioxide, but then the carbon dioxide escapes to the air, leaving the Sake flat.
Well, there are basically 3 different approaches.
- Tank Fermentation
- Bottle Fermentation
This basically means injection of CO2 gas into already made Sake to make it sparkling. It is the same as any other fizzy soft drinks are made.
2. Tank Fermentation
As written above, Sake originally has bubbles. So instead of letting the carbon dioxide escape, keeping the CO2 inside the tank at low temperatures and high pressures will make the CO2 dissolve into the liquid, in this case Sake.
This tank fermentation process is like how beers are made. This type of Sake tends to be clear as filtering occurs before bottling.
3. Bottle Fermentation
This process is similar to the tank fermentation but instead of making Sake bubbly in a tank, it happens in a bottle by putting active lees/yeast. This type of Sake tends to be cloudy with Sake lees as only rough filtering needs to occur to keep the fermentation continue inside the bottle therefore leaving the lees inside intentionally. This process is similar to how champagne or sparkling wine is made.
Popular Sparkling Sake Brands
To finish it up, we would like to show you a couple of popular Sparkling Sake.
1. MIO (澪)
MIO is probably one of the most popular Sparkling Sake. Characterized by its little sourness and low alcohol, MIO has a large number of fans among women. MIO uses the carbonation method.
2. SUZUNE (すず音)
SUZUNE is one of the pioneers in Sparkling category. It has been around since 1998, before the Sparkling trend hit the world. It uses the bottle fermentation like champagne, creating fine bubbles. SUZUNE is perfect for special occasions as it is also available in pink or yellow color with no artificial additives.
3. Dassai Sparkling Nigori 50 (獺祭スパークリングにごり50)
This Sparkling Sake has 16% of alcohol content and is more like normal Sake compared to other Sparkling Sake. It also uses bottle fermentation and the gas pressure is so high if you don’t open the bottle properly, it will almost explode! The little comic instruction below is attached to the bottle.
We bet you want to try Sparkling after reading this!
For those who don’t really like the distinct Sake aroma and flavor, Sparkling may be a solution for you. For Sake lovers, Sparkling might be too light-bodied but having Sparkling Sake in occasions instead of champagne would be nice.
There are a lot of different brands of Sparkling now. Try out the new Sake experience and spread the word!!