Wine Vs Sake.


Sake and wine are two of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. They have unique flavour profiles, cultural significance, and traditions. However, despite sharing some similarities, they are fundamentally different in terms of ingredients, production processes, flavour profiles, and serving temperatures. Is sake really a "rice wine"?

In this deep-dive blog post, we will explore the differences between sake and wine in detail.




sake ingredient rice

The primary ingredient in sake is rice. The rice is polished to remove the outer layers, leaving behind the starchy core, also known as shinpaku. This shinpaku is then soaked, steamed, and cooled before being mixed with koji (a type of mould) and yeast to start the fermentation process. The starch in the rice is first converted to sugar by the koji, and then the sugar is converted to alcohol by the yeast.



wine ingredient, grape

In contrast, wine is made from fermented grapes. The grapes are harvested and crushed to extract their juice, which is then fermented with yeast to produce alcohol. The type of grape used, the climate, the soil, and the fermentation process all contribute to the flavour profile of the wine.



Production Process

The production process for sake is quite complex and requires a lot of attention to detail. The process is known as multiple parallel fermentation. It involves converting the starch in rice into sugar, and then into alcohol at the same time in the same tank. This process is unique to sake and requires a lot of precision to produce high-quality sake.

The first step in the process is the preparation of koji. The rice is steamed and then inoculated with koji spores, which convert the starch in the rice into sugar. This step is crucial because it determines the sweetness and flavour of the final product. The rice is then mixed with water and yeast to start the fermentation process.

The fermentation process takes place in multiple stages, each with a specific temperature and duration. The temperature is carefully controlled to ensure the proper balance of flavours and aromas. After fermentation, the sake is pressed to separate the liquid from the solids, and then it is aged to develop its flavour further.


In contrast, the production process for wine is simpler than that for sake. The grapes are harvested, crushed, and then fermented with yeast to produce alcohol. The fermentation process for wine is more straightforward than that for sake, but it still requires careful attention to timing and temperature to produce high-quality wine. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of wine.



Flavour Profile

Sake and wine have distinct flavour profiles that differentiate them from each other. Sake tends to have a clean, crisp, and light taste with a subtle sweetness. The flavour of sake can vary widely depending on the type of rice, yeast, and water used to make it. The aroma of sake is often described as floral, fruity, or herbal, depending on the type of sake.


Wine can have a wide range of flavour profiles, depending on the type of grape used and the fermentation process. Wine can be dry or sweet, full-bodied or light, and can have various fruity or earthy undertones. The aroma of wine is often described as floral, fruity, or spicy, depending on the type of wine.



Serving Temperature


hot sake

The serving temperature of sake and wine is another significant difference between the two. Sake can be served at a very wide range of temperature from very cold to very hot, from 5°C to 55°C. Cold sake tends to have a more delicate and refreshing taste, while room temperature sake can be fuller and more robust. The serving temperature of sake can significantly affect its flavour profile.


In contrast, wine serving temperature is narrower. White wines are typically served sligthly chilled, while red wines are usually served at room temperature. The temperature at which wine is served can affect its flavour profile.



The Acidity

Acidity is a crucial component of both sake and wine, as it contributes to their overall flavour profile and balance. However, the level and type of acidity in sake and wine can differ significantly due to their production methods and ingredients.


In sake, acidity is typically measured using the term "sando," which refers to the level of acidity in terms of milliequivalents per litre (meq/L). The acidity in sake can range from around 1.0 to 2.0 sando, with most sake falling within the range of 1.2 to 1.6 sando. This range of acidity is relatively low compared to wine, which typically has a higher level of acidity, up to 8 times more acidic than sake.

The acidity in sake is primarily derived from the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process, as well as some malic and succinic acids. These acids give sake its characteristic sour taste and contribute to its overall balance and complexity.


In wine, the level and type of acidity can vary widely depending on the grape variety, growing conditions, and winemaking techniques. Acidity in wine is typically measured using pH, with most wines having a pH between 2.8 and 4.0.

The acidity in wine is derived primarily from the tartaric, malic, and citric acids present in the grapes. These acids contribute to the wine's flavour profile, as well as its ability to age and develop complexity over time.




In conclusion, while both sake and wine are alcoholic beverages, they are fundamentally different from each other in terms of their ingredients, production process, flavour profile, and serving temperature. Sake is made from rice and brewed using multiple parallel fermentations, while wine is made from fermented grapes. Sake tends to have a clean and crisp taste and is traditionally enjoyed cold or at room temperature. Wine has a wide range of flavours and can be served at different temperatures, depending on the type of wine.

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