Summer sake
Photo: Japan Sake Brewing Association

Summer sake: the seasonal drink you never knew you needed

Looking to try something new? Swap your beer for a refreshing glass of summer sake

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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When it comes to summer drinks, we tend to gravitate towards an ice cold beer, a refreshing cocktail or a glass of rosé. However, in recent years, there’s been a growing interest in summer sake. Typically, nihonshu (as the rice wine is typically called in Japan) is mostly consumed between autumn and spring. It’s never been much of a summer drink, as its full body and sweet profile tend to be more suited for the cooler weather. But these days, there’s a wealth of different sake, including lighter and drier styles that are ideal for summer. 

Today, almost every brewery in Japan makes their own version of summer sake and there are several varieties. One of the most popular is namazake or unpasturised sake, whose bright and fruity taste is best enjoyed chilled. 

The highly aromatic ginjo sake is another summer favourite, defined by its complex flavour and light mouthfeel. This particular type of sake is also a lot drier and has a lower alcohol content, making it easy to drink during the warmer months. Lastly, a chilled sparkling sake is always great for summer – its light effervescence makes it refreshing and fun. After all, nobody can say no to a glass of bubbly. 

Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center
Photo: Kaila Imada

While shopping for sake can be intimidating due to the overwhelming variety, it’s easy to pinpoint summer sake on the shelves as the labels often feature fun, sunny and brightly coloured designs. However, if you need some guidance and recommendations, we suggest visiting Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center in Toranomon, Tokyo. 

Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Aside from being a sake information centre and bottle shop, this English-friendly venue also has a tasting bar where you can sample all sorts of nihonshu and shochu from around Japan. New sake are being released on a monthly basis, so head over anytime to discover the new summer sake trend. You can even learn how to use sake to make a refreshing cocktail from the friendly staff.

For more information on the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center, visit the website. You can also tune in to the free Sake on Air podcast. 

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