Is Sake Dry or Sweet?
Sake is often mistaken for rice wine, but this is incorrect. The way sake is fermented means it has more in common with beer than wine. Like beer makers, sake producers have a lot of control over the result to suit a wide range of palates. Whether you prefer your sake sweet or enjoy drinking sake that leans more towards savory, there is something for everyone.
Almost all sake will have a hint of sweetness, but there is a big difference whether sake is really sweet or is just perceived as sweet. Aroma, alcohol volume and acidity levels will have a significant influence on your perception of sweetness.
If a slightly sweet sake is also low in alcohol and low in acidity, but has a fragrant aroma, it will appear as sweeter than it actually is. Alternately, if a relatively sweet sake has a racy acidity then it will come off as quite dry.
Champagne offers a great example that people might be more used to. While Brut champagne is relatively dry, it appears more dry than it actually is because of its high acidity.
Because sweetness perception is so complex we, at Kurashu, don't put emphasis on the sweetness or dryness of a sake. We instead sort sake into one of six categories to give an overall impression of a sake's taste.