Why did I choose eleven facts to highlight about sake?
Eleven. Magic number. Just ask Sir Nigel Tufnel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbVKWCpNFhY
1. Sake, or saké (saw-kay) is the oldest known spirit in the world. Saké was first produced in China in 4800 BC.
2. To your health! Unlike wine, premium sake contains no sulfites, additives or preservatives and is gluten-free and tannin-free as well. Furthermore sake has about 50% less acid than most wines, making it easier to tolerate for some. Premium saké contains virtually no congeners – the impurities and byproducts of fermentation in alcoholic beverages thought to cause hangovers. Health-conscious consumers are only now discovering these unique features and benefits to saké as a category.
3. Premium sake is almost always served chilled in the west, as saké is sometimes heated to mask impurities. You wouldn’t put a glass of champagne in the microwave, would you?
4. Saké has about 400 flavor components (aromatic esters) compared to only about 200 for wine.
5. There are 20 amino acids in sake, a greater variety than is found in any other type of alcoholic beverage. By comparison wine has 14.
6. In strict Japanese tradition, a person must never pour his or her own saké. To do so, especially in a formal setting, is implying that your host is incapable of taking care of you.
7. Saké consumption has fallen almost every year from 1976 to present, while at the same time premium saké has the fast growing category in the USA. This is due to recent Japanese generations having more consumer choices than their parents as well as a fascination with categories and brands from beyond Japan.
8. Sake, as it is commonly known, is also sometimes referred to as nihonshu (“Japanese saké”), or even seishu (“clear or clean sake”). A saké bar in Japan may not actually sell any nihonshu.
9. You can’t really cellar or age the vast majority of premium sakes. After 1.5 years the best nihonshu in the world will begin to taste like the worst. Fresher is typically better.
10. Saké has as much as five-seven times the amino acids than that of wine, including at least three times as much glutamic acid, which is the indicator for what is known as umami , which means "pleasant savory taste" and is considered to be one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Saké is also lower than wine in tart components such as tartaric and malic acids...This means that sake pairs extremely well with food, regardless of the cuisine. If you enjoy a Burgundy with something other than French food, then you might give sake a try with something beyond just Japanese food.
11. One in every five glasses of “wine” or beverages in that same alcohol level served in the world is actually saké!
Kanpai! to these many interesting qualities, not the least of which is premium saké is delicious!