sake, alcoholic beverage made from rice by fermentation. Although sake is sometimes called rice wine, and can have a smooth body and be quite aromatic, it has a higher alcohol content and is produced in a unique manner that is more similar to how beer is brewed. The rice, which comes from varities grown especially for making sake, is milled to remove the husk, bran, and germ, then washed, soaked in water, and steamed. After the rice has cooled, koji mold, Aspergillus oryzae, is mixed into it. The mold converts the rice starch to sugar over several days; the result is known as koji. Yeast, koji, steamed rice, and water are mixed together to make a mash starter, which then is added to more koji, steamed rice, and water and allowed to ferment to produce sake. The sake is then pressed and in many cases filtered, pasteurized, and aged several months. Sake can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled, depending on the type of sake.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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