Sake and food pairing

Sake’s low acidity, savoury umami character and velvety texture make it a very food friendly drink – one that will pair with many different cuisines.

You’ve probably seen sake as a match to sushi and other Japanese food. However, it is incredibly versatile and it’s worth keeping an open mind when considering matches – for example, sake and chocolate together is great. As with wine, there are some important factors to consider so here’s our simple guide to making the best matches:


You don’t want the food or the drink to overpower one another. Therefore a lighter style of sake will work better with a light dish such as seafood or fish, whereas heavier dishes such as roast chicken or dauphinoise potatoes would work best with a richer style of sake.


The flavours of sake tend to be more neutral and pure than wine, so you must be careful to pair it with food that will complement rather than overpower it. An aromatic style of sake such as Junmai Daiginjo will pair better with fragrant dishes flavoured with things like basil or yuzu. The more aged Koshu styles work better with richer, savoury dishes like steak.


Most sakes have high levels of umami, so they work well with dishes that have similarly high umami content. Think parmesan cheese, aged beef and soy sauce.


Sake doesn’t necessarily have to be complementary to the food.  In fact, its purity and clean finish can often be used to refresh the palate between mouthfuls.  Alternatively, these clean flavours work very well alongside pure dishes such as sashimi. 

Beware Ginjo & Sashimi

Despite the seemingly natural pairing of sake and sashimi, matching ginjo styles with raw fish can be tricky as it tends to enhance the fishiness of the dish which some people can find unpleasant. 

Not just sushi...

If you follow our guide, there are so many possible food matches with sake. Here’s some inspiration to show the kind of pairings you can explore:

• Blue cheese with Akita Takashimizu Junmai Daiginjo
• Truffles with Tenzan Shichida Junmai 75
• Steak with Takashimizu Kimoto Junmai
• Charcuterie platters with Shiraki Daruma Masamune 3 Years Old
• Chocolate dessert with Niizawa Kishinamien Umeshu
• Spicy, chilli dishes with Akita Takashimizu Honjozo
• Oysters with Niizawa Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjo
• Cheese boards with Shiraki Daruma Masamune 10 Years Old

2nd January 2015

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Drink Aware - know the facts