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What are differences between Japanese sake and Shaoxing Huangjiu?


Some friends said that Japanese sake comes from Shaoxing Huangjiu. What are differences between the two? From August 21st to August 28th, I had the honor to visit Japan with the delegation during the "Shaoxing week of Japan and South Korea". I visited Gekkeikan Corporation which is one of the three major sake companies in Japan, and communicated with Mr. Miyamoto who is an expert on sake brewing in Japan, to learn the brewing process and the quality of Japanese sake on the spot.

Huangjiu is the national wine of China. Similarly, sake is the national wine of Japan. And their brewing processes are very similar. One of the raw materials is rice. At the Shaoxing Huangjiu tasting meeting held in Kyoto on August 24th, Mr. Miyamoto said that the rice planting technology in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River was introduced to Japan about 2000 years ago. Then the rice-based brewing technology was introduced to Japan. Thus, Huangjiu is the mother of sake.

The Japanese have been fond of drinking since ancient times. The [Stories of Japanese" in the History of Three Kingdoms says that Japanese are addicted to drinking. And there are more than 4000 sake breweries in Japan, including Kobe's Kiku-masamune, Kyoto's Gekkeikan, Itami`s Beksul, Kobe's Hakutsuru, Nishinomiya's Nihonsakari, Nishinomiya's Ozaki and so on.

On the morning of August 24th, we visited Gekkeikan Co., Ltd., which was founded in 1637 and has a history of 382 years. Why do the company choose the Fujian town near Kyoto as the winery? Because there is a high-quality water source called Yuquan. We visited the old winery of Gekkeikan Co., Ltd., which has been transformed into a memorial hall. And the clear water which is led by a bamboo tube, is bubbling in a wooden barrel at the door.

In the Gekkeikan memorial hall, there is a display of brewing technology of Japanese sake. And we found that the brewing technology of Japanese sake is almost the same as that of Shaoxing Huangjiu. The process is as follows: rice soaking, rice steaming, koji making, fermentation, squeezing, sterilizing (wine boiling) and storage. The equipment used is also very similar. For example, we use the large vat as the rice soaking and fermentation tool, and Japanese use the large wooden barrel. What`s more, we both put the mash into a wine bag, and then use a wooden squeezer to squeeze. And Japanese use wooden barrels to store Japanese sake, while we use vats and jars to store Shaoxing Huangjiu. In addition, the fermentation process of sake and Huangjiu is complex. The alcohol is transformed from sugar which is fermented from starch.

Of course, there are differences between Japanese sake and Shaoxing Huangjiu in the process. Japanese try to make the sake [pure" because they like the fresh taste. First of all, although we both use rice as one of the raw materials, Japanese sake factories will peel off the protein (germ) on the outer layer of rice, to ensure that sake is clear and transparent (in comparison, our home-made Huangjiu generally has light white suspended solids).

Secondly, the biggest difference between sake and Huangjiu is the fermentation bacteria. Japanese use the aspergillus called "national bacteria". The aspergillus is put into the steamed rice evenly and then rice koji is made. And the yeast of Huangjiu is much richer. There are naturally cultivated yeast (commonly known as Chinese yeast), wheat starter, red yeast and so on. Because of differences in raw materials and fermentation bacteria, the flavor of sake and that of Huangjiu are different. Sake, with light fragrance and single taste, is pure. And the aftertaste of most of sake is like water. In comparison, the aroma of Huangjiu is rich, and Huangjiu tastes sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, astringent and fresh. The unique flavor of Huangjiu and sake is mainly from Chinese yeast and wheat koji. Finally, there are differences between Japanese sake and Shaoxing Huangjiu in the post-treatment process. Japanese sake is filtered and mixed after being squeezed and settled. Then, it is sterilized at 60 ~ 65 and stored for about 1 year. After the storage, it is mixed, filtered again, decolorized with activated carbon, heated to 65 , bottled while hot and delivered. The post-treatment process of Huangjiu is basically the same as that of sake, but the sterilization temperature of Huangjiu is higher than that of sake. In addition, Jiafan Jiu needs to be aged and stored for more than 3 years before entering into the market. Japanese sake factories put a special emphasis on raw materials. And they think that only good rice and water can make high-quality sake.

At present, the top-grade Japanese sake in the Japanese market is produced in the northeast of Japan, such as "Kubota" and "Hakkaisan". The northeast of Japan is rich in rice. "Koshihikari" and "Akitakomachi", two famous rice brands in Japan, are produced in Niigata county and Akita county in the northeast of Japan. In addition, there are many snow mountains in the northeast of Japan, and groundwater is very sweet. Therefore, "Kubota" and "Hakkaisan" in Niigata county are accepted high-grade sake brands in Japan. However, in recent years, there is another sake brand called [Dassai" which is more popular than "Kubota" and "Hakkaisan" in Japan. It is produced in Yamaguchi County. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Dassai sake to President Obama of the United States as a 60th birthday gift, and also to President Putin of Russia. Why does Abe choose Dassai sake as a gift? Because Abe comes from Yamaguchi county which is exactly the production area of Dassai sake. Therefore, marketing plays an important role in promoting wine.

Business Type:Manufacturer
Product Range:Alcohol & Hydroxybenzene & Ether
Products/Service:Shaoxing wine , Fruit wine , Huadiao wine , Jarred Wine , Rice wine , Lao Jiu
Certificate:HACCP , ISO14001 , ISO9001 , Test Report
Company Address:Beihai Bridge Shaoxiang Zhejiang China, Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China

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