What Does Sake Taste Like: All You Need To Know!


Sake, also known as Japanese rice wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, clean water, koji mold, and yeast. This national beverage is consumed in Japan for more than 2500 years and is similar to spirits, wine, and beer.

Different types of sake exist depending on the type of rice, brewing and filtration process, where sake is produced, and many other factors that affect the quality and taste of sake.

Generally, sake can be sweet, dry, bitter, tart, and acidic with subtle notes of fruits, spices, flowers, and herbs. Sake is not used just for drinking or making cocktails.

There is also cooking sake that is used to enhance the flavor of many different dishes and give them a beautiful, sweet umami flavor. Cooking sake is used in meat and fish marinades to tenderize the meats and remove stronger odors. You can also add it to sauces, stews, soups, stir-fries, baked goods, and desserts.

Cooking sake is not suitable for drinking because it has 2-3% of added salt. It is less sweet than the drinking sake but still gives a beautiful umami flavor to food. If you need sake just for cooking and want to spend less money use cooking sake.

However, if you want to drink sake, just buy high-quality sake and use it both for drinking and cooking.

If you have never tried sake and want to know what it tastes like, or how to drink it, just scroll down. Below, we will also compare different types of drinks with sake and describe how they differ from it. So, let’s begin.

japanese sake

How Would You Describe The Taste Of Sake?

When you take sake in your mouth the first taste you will notice is sweet and sour, later followed by a bitter and umami taste. You will also feel its smooth and astringent taste and long or short aftertaste (depending on the type of sake) after you swallow the sake.

Koji mold is a type of fungus which is added during sake production to enhance its taste and provide a lovely umami note. The taste of sake also depends on how you are drinking it. You can consume it chilled, heated, or at room temperature.

Sake can be sweet or dry which depends on the balance of acids and sugars. Good quality sake has a perfect balance between its taste and aroma.

Does Sake Taste Good?

Sake is a favorite drink to many peoples because of its sweet and mild well balanced taste. Depending on your personal preferences sake can taste good or bad.

Note that sake doesn’t have a strong flavor like spirits or some other alcoholic beverages. The mild, sweet balanced umami taste and different types of aroma will make sake your favorite drink. You can use it plain or mixed in cocktails. Just try it and you will like it in the first taste.

What Does Sake Smell Like?

Depending on the brewing and aging methods sake can have a different smell. Sake can smell like:

  • Fruits (banana, melon, apricot, lychee, pear, strawberry, citrus, apple, or muscat grape);
  • Nuts (walnut, peanut, chestnut, hazelnut, almond);
  • Spices (nutmeg, clove, cumin, chocolate, cinnamon, fenugreek);
  • Flowers (orange blossom, rose, honeysuckle);
  • Grass and woods (green grass, bamboo, cedar, pine);
  • Dairy (yogurt, butter, cream, cream cheese);
  • Roasted (coffee, soy sauce, toast, caramel, smoky);
  • Sweet (dried fruits, honey, licorice);
  • Rice and mushrooms.

How Do You Drink Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese dink so if you want to drink it in the traditional way you will need to use a sake set.

Japanese have their ceremony of consuming sake. They consume it very slowly in smaller sips to experience the full taste and aroma.

You can try to drink sake in the Japanese way. Just sip it slowly and enjoy! Depending on the type of sake, season, and taste you can drink sake chilled, heated, or at room temperature.

Premium types of sake are best to drink chilled or at room temperature, while cheaper sake is better to drink heated during the winter months.

The flavor of this drink pairs well with sushi, aged cheese, and dried fruits. You can serve it straight or used it to make many different cocktails such as Saketinis, Tamagozake, Cherry Blossom Margarita, Manhattan love story, and Nogasake.

There’s a wide range of sake! All you have to do is choose the one you like the most and enjoy.

Does Sake Taste Like Vodka?

Hot sake has a similar taste to vodka. However, the two alcoholic beverages are prepared differently, with different tastes, alcohol, and calorie content.

Vodka has a strong alcoholic taste. Sake, on the other hand, has a sweet and umami taste. Furthermore, vodka has about 40-50% alcohol by volume, and undiluted sake contains from 18-20% of alcohol by volume.

That said, you can drink a few more cups of sake and don’t get drunk as you would with vodka.

Does Sake Taste Like Beer?

Beer same as sake can be found in many different flavors but they do not taste the same.

Sake and beer go through a similar brewing process. First, starches are turned into sugars, then sugars are fermented into alcohol. However, that doesn’t mean that sake tastes like beer.

It has a different taste than bear. It has a well-balanced sweet flavor with many different aromas. While beer has a carbonated, bitter, and deeper taste than sake.

Is Sake A Strong Drink?

Sake is stronger than wine but softer than spirits like vodka, tequila, or whisky.

Undiluted sake has 18-20% of alcohol by volume while diluted sake has about 15% ABV. Wines usually contain from 9-16% of alcohol by volume and beer has from 3-9% ABV.

Although sake is not as strong as other spirits like vodka or whiskey that doesn’t mean it can’t make you drunk. Therefore, you need to drink it in reasonable amounts.

What Alcohol Is Most Similar To Sake?

Dry white wine is similar to sake because they both have a dry and sweet flavor.

Although sake is sweeter than wine and has different aromas, Chinese wine like Huangjiu which is brewed from rice and millet as well as Shaoxing wine which is brewed from rice, is very similar to sake. And you can use it used instead of sake in cooking.

Dry sherry and dry vermouth are also similar to sake and can be used as their substitute. Sake has a unique taste and aroma therefore it is different than the other drinks available.

What Alcohol Does Sake Taste Like?

Sake has a similar but sweeter taste to white wine.

When sake is served cold it has a more flavorful but similar taste to dry white wine. While sake which is served hot brings hints of vodka. Sake also has a similar aroma and aftertaste to sherry.

Sherry is a fortified wine made with white wine grapes. It can be sweet or dry with light or intense slightly salty flavor and hints of dried fruit and nuts.

Sake tastes like many other drinks but nothing tastes like sake!

Is Sake High In Alcohol?

Undiluted sake contains 18-20% ABV, while diluted sake has a content of 15% of ABV. That means sake contains more alcohol than beer and wine.

However, it contains less alcohol than spirits like vodka, tequila, or whisky. You can drink sake in small glasses but in a reasonable amount because it can also make you drunk.


It is very difficult to explain the taste of sake. You have to try different types of sake to choose the one you like the most.

Sake has various aromas that pair well with many different types of food. You just need to find the perfect match and enjoy.

You can drink sake chilled, warmed, or at room temperature. Straight or mixed in many cocktails. Either way, it will taste great and ensure a unique experience as a celebratory drink.

In cooking, it will be a good cultural journey. The taste, aroma, and appearance of this drink are unique. Therefore, it is not easy to find a replacement!

Have you ever tried sake? What is your favorite type of sake? How are you drinking sake? Share your answers in the comment section down below!

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