Umami Information Center


The Japanese Sake Fair 2021 held online

October 2021

Pairing Japanese food with sake might be different from pairing it with wine. With the scientific analysis of sake focusing on umami, what can we find out?
In October 2021, the JAPAN SAKE AND SHOCHU MAKERS ASSOCIATION organized the series of seminars "The Japanese Sake Fair 2021" over nine days, which were streamed on YouTube. 
For this event, the local sake brewers’ guilds across Japan came together. They showed a various appeal of sake and sake culture, including how rice is grown and dishes that go perfectly with sake.

On October 8, the first day of the event, Dr. Kumiko Ninomiya, a consultant of the Umami Information Center, appeared at the starting seminar. She had a talk live titled "Umami and Sake" with Dr. Hitoshi Utsunomiya, a director of the association and the organizer of the event.

Dr. Ninomiya explained what umami is and how it can be easily experienced.
She talked about the relationship between umami and other four basic tastes - salty, sweet, sour, bitter - and spiciness, fats.
"Umami and saltiness strengthen each other when the concentration is low. On the other hand, umami can suppress bitterness and sourness.", she said.

Umami and saltiness work well with each other. Sake is often served in a wooden cup with salt because the salt enhances the umami of the sake.

Following Dr. Ninomiya's explanation, Dr. Utsunomiya further specialized in sake and explained the umami substance and the amino acid composition of sake. He also explained the scientific differences between sake and wine, both of them are taking with meals. Regarding the marriage between sake and food, Dr. Utsunomiya said, "Sake goes especially well with bitter and sour taste and has the power to enhance the lingering taste of food.”