From left:  Dewazakura Seijo Karakuchi, Houraisen Kasumizuki Junmai, Kenbishi Kuromatsu.

In Japan, sake is always served with food. Slightly sweet, with a good amount of umami and an average ABV of 15%, makes this delicate beverage extremely food-friendly.

Sake can be served with any type of meal, from simple otsumami (a light snack), right through to meals with heavy complex flavours.

When I think about pairing sake and food, I look for balanced characteristics or similarities in flavour, aroma, texture, temperature, colour and weight.

Specific characteristics such as umami, sweetness, alcohol, acidity, bitterness, and astringency are all sake elements that help to enhance the flavour of the food they’re being served with.

For example, if serving a light, clean dish like sashimi or fish crudo with wasabi, I’d choose a style of Sake such as Futsushu, which is light, delicate, and aromatic. This everyday style of sake is a great all-rounder, and can be served both warm at the start of a meal and on ice on a hot summer day. Alternatively, a full-flavoured ragout pasta dish would pair well with a Sake style such as Yamahai with its earthy, savoury characteristics.

Cheese and Sake
A match made in heaven.

Cheese is a fantastic food to enjoy with sake as they share similar umami characteristics.

Lighter, more acidic cheeses such as goats cheese pair well with more delicate, dry styles of sake such as Dewazakura Seijo Karakuchi.

Earthy complex cheeses such as gruyère go well with a weightier sake such as Houraisen Kasumizuki Junmai, while the rich flavour of cheddar works perfectly with the full-bodied sake Kenbishi Kuromatsu.


Japanese sake, whisky, gin, umeshu and yuzushu are available to purchase at Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Qantas Wine and at local wine retailers.

Yukino Ochiai of Deja Vu Sake.