Sake is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. Sake is sometimes referred to in English-speaking countries as rice wine. However, unlike wine, in which alcohol is produced by fermenting sugar that is naturally present in grapes, sake is produced by means of a brewing process more like that of beer. To make beer or sake, the sugar needed to produce alcohol must first be converted from starch.
The brewing process for sake differs from the process for beer, in that for beer, the conversion from starch to sugar and from sugar to alcohol occurs in two discrete steps. But when sake is brewed, these conversions occur simultaneously. Furthermore, the alcohol content differs between sake, wine, and beer. Sake generally contains 9%–16% alcohol. The origin of sake is unclear however the earliest reference to the use of alcohol in Japan is recorded in the Book of Wei in the Records of the Three Kingdoms.
Today, sake has become a world beverage with a few breweries springing up in China, Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Australia. More breweries are also turning to older methods of production. While the rest of the world may be drinking more sake and the quality of sake has been increasing, sake production in Japan has been declining since the mid 1970s. The number of sake breweries is also declining. While there were 3,229 breweries nationwide in fiscal 1975, the number had fallen to 1,845 in 2007. Also remember to come in and buy sake on October 1 as it is the official Sake Day of Japan!!!