The Premium Sake: Junmai Ginjo
31st March 2023
Are you looking for healthy Japanese rice wine? Take note of Junmai, which means “rice and water only,” a beverage without brewer’s alcohol has been added. One of its premium categories is Junmai Ginjo, made from special rice varieties polished to remove at least 40 per cent of the grains’ outer layers.
Notably, Junmai Ginjo sake has a more pronounced and flavourful taste than other types of sake. It has a sweet and fruity aroma, subtle herbal and grassy notes, and a clean and dry finish. When paired with food, it complements sushi and balanced cuisines well. It is also great with lighter dishes like fish, vegetables, and poultry.
Sake varieties need to be clearer to identify from one another. But there are two key variables to note—the presence or absence of brewer’s alcohol (a neutral distilled spirit) during the brewing process and the rice polishing ratio (RPR).
Another thing to be mindful of is the terms used. It is referred to as “junmai” when no brewer’s alcohol is used during brewing. You can only find this word on the label if premium sake contains a small percentage of alcohol.
Moreover, cleaning the rice before brewing is a precise operation. There are certain rice polishing ratio criteria for each type of sake.
Whether new to sake or an experienced sake aficionado, the vast range of Junmai Ginjo and other sake varieties offer something for everyone. From light and refreshing to full-bodied and intense, this incredible beverage has something for everyone.
The Main Ingredients
Junmai Ginjo is an amazing sake crafted using just four simple ingredients: rice, water, koji, and yeast.
There are several types of rice that can be used to produce Japanese sake. While “ginjo” rice is commonly used in Junmai Ginjo production, other types, such as Yamada Nishiki, Omachi, and Gohyakumangoku rice, can also be used. It is polished to create a rice malt and achieve the ideal levels of sweetness and body. The water used is generally soft so that it will not mask the delicate aroma of the Junmai Ginjo.
Koji is a unique form of rice made by culturing it with a special mould called koji-kin. It creates enzymes that convert the starch of the rice into sugars and acids, which can be used for brewing.
Finally, a specialised strain of sake yeast brings out the most delicate flavours in the Junmai Ginjo. With the careful balance of all four ingredients, Junmai Ginjo can be an exquisite drink with a unique taste.
Nutrients in Junmai Ginjo
Nothing pairs better with an exquisite meal than a nice bottle of Junmai Ginjo. It is a type of Japanese rice wine that offers various health benefits, making it a perfect choice for the health-conscious consumer.
Junmai Ginjo is naturally low in calories and high in beneficial nutrients, such as B vitamins and amino acids. It is also packed with healthy antioxidants that can help protect your body from free radicals. So when you want to savour an evening meal with a special drink, turn to Junmai Ginjo for an experience like no other.
Characteristics of Junmai Ginjo
Junmai Ginjo is an elegant and unique Japanese rice wine. It is renowned for its complex yet harmonious flavours. This type of sake is made using the finest grains of sake-specific rice, a special yeast strain, and very soft water, carefully polished to 50 per cent or less of the original grain size.
The brewing process is done meticulously and skillfully, allowing the aroma and flavour of the sake to stand out. It produces a highly drinkable, well-balanced, fragrant Junmai Ginjo with fruity and floral notes and a dry finish.
The Process of Making Junmai Ginjo
Making Junmai Ginjo is an intricate process, requiring the craftsmanship of highly skilled brewers and strict adherence to exacting standards.
The journey to creating the perfect Junmai Ginjo starts with choosing the right ingredients, which include polished rice, koji, water, and yeast.
The rice is first milled to the proper degree, usually, a maximum of 50 per cent, allowing more pure starch in the rice to remain intact. The brewer then inoculates the steamed rice with a koji mould called Aspergillus oryzae.
This begins the fermentation process, which is closely monitored to ensure that the enzymes within the koji convert the rice starches into glucose and the bacteria that turns this glucose into alcohol. The resulting sake mixture is then combined with brewing water, yeast, and a small amount of the brewer’s alcohol and stored in a fermentation tank.
For two to four weeks, the mixture ferments at a cool temperature and the brewers closely monitor it as the components meld together, developing flavour, aroma and character. Once fermentation is complete, the sake is transferred to a filtration tank, where it is separated into multiple levels to clarify and remove any unwanted materials.
Lastly, the brewer is faced with the delicate task of ageing. They sample the sake to judge the final flavours and determine if the Junmai Ginjo is sufficient.
Junmai Ginjo is a great option for sake enthusiasts. While it may not be for everyone, those who enjoy sake should try it! This premium sake is refreshing and flavourful, with its intense fruity aroma and subtle acidity.
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