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All about junmai

What is junmai?

Junmai is a Japanese word that means pure rice. It's an important classification when it comes to sake because this term differentiates between pure rice sake and impure rice sake or sake with add-ons. Brewers makes junmai using only rice, yeast, water and koji, which is a special mold used in Japanese sake-making. When a sake is junmai, it means the brewer didn't add any extra alcohol or sugar to it. If a bottle label doesn't mention junmai, it means the sake has some kind of additive. While people consider these sakes superior, it doesn't mean adding something to the sake is a negative. Sometimes, a brewer might add something to enhance the sake's aroma or flavor profile.

Junmai characteristics

Junmai sake is generally full-bodied and features an elevated earthiness in flavors. You can detect rice flavor because that's the main ingredient in it. It has robust flavors but doesn’t have an intense fragrance. If you're a sake beginner, it's best to start with easy-to-drink ginjos that tend to be light and fruity. If you're a wine drinker or already have a developed palate, junmai is a good style for you. Junmai offers a rustic flavor that has subtle notes that beginners may not appreciate. For the highest grade of sake, opt for junmai daiginjo.

Junmai sake pairings

Since junmai sakes are big and robust with an inherent richness, they match well with rich foods. Their high acidity levels balance well with heavy meats. Enjoy a glass of this pure rice sake with grilled sardines. The smokiness of the fish is a nice flavor to enjoy with the deep, earthy taste of sake. Grilled meats also blend well with junmai, and, in particular, red meats such as beef add a fuller taste to the sake.

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