Dry Sake or Sweet?
Everyone, myself included, has shopped this way for some kind of specialty item. For Sake, this means consideration of sweet and dry becomes an afterthought, and you may end up with something terrible - or worse: something great that just wasn't for you!
To help you judge dry and sweet, Japan developed a Sake Meter Value, or "SMV" (Nihon Shudo, in Japanese). The scale is simple: any positive (+) number would mean dry, zero neutral, and negative (-) numbers sweet. Turns out, that scale was too simple... Japanese importer and distributor JFC, created this second chart to include more factors:
|You can see their original post here: http://sakeexpert.com/saketaste.php|
Good news is, if you didn't like it, you are not wrong. Even with an untrained palate, you are an expert in knowing what you like. Beyond personal preference, you can also probably tell if a Sake tastes improperly balanced. A bad dry Sake will taste too boozy (alcohol-forward) with a burning or long aftertaste, while a poorly-made sweet Sake will taste syrupy or cloying. These problems come up frequently with cheaper, domestic (American-made) and/or mass-produced Japanese Sake, but they are not the only culprits.
A final disclaimer about SMVs: higher numbers *should* mean more sweet or dry than lower numbers, but alcohol content and balance can change everything. Shimane's Kan-Nihonkai is +15, but tastes so balanced, I find it comes off as much less dry than Kurosawa Kimoto Junmai that's only +2!
My recommendation: Try to find a neutral sake. You may prefer dry or sweet, but a soft, neutral sake like Kikusui Junmai Ginjo will keep everyone happy, including you.
|Unless you're trying to pair Sake with food... more on that next time!|
Get involved! Keep the conversation going in the comments!