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Right board for sake?

Somebody opened a topic about sake on the Wine board and it's been moved to the Beer board.


That seems weird to me. Sake's also called "rice wine," its alcohol content is similar to wine's (usually around 15%), it's not fizzy like beer, and it generally comes in large bottles rather than individual serving bottles.

You can make a techincal argument that the fermentation process is more similar to beer, but the end result is much closer to wine, and I think wine lovers are generally more into sake than beer lovers.

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  1. Beer is the fermentation of grains (like rice) and wine is fermentation of fruit. At least that is my understanding. My husband and I joke that Budwiser is really sake because they use so much more rice than any other grain.

    1. Yeah, I would never look for sake on the beer board.

      1. Sake is a fermented grain (rice) beverage, hence it belongs on the beer board.

        There are still beers, and there are beers that come in large bottles, and there are beers with alcohol in excess of 20% by volume.

        One of America's authorities on sake is Fred Eckhardt, who has a sought-after book on the subject, and is also a well-known authority on beer.

        1. Robert, I usually agree with what you post, particularly on the subject of wine, but to answer your points one by one:
          --Sake's only called rice wine by people who don't know any better.
          --Like another poster mentioned, there are a lot of beers which have fairly high alcohol content (i was just sipping a bottle of thomas hardy ale 11.7 per cent last night).
          --Usually, the really good sakes are in bottles closer to beer bottle size than wine size. of course, feel free to knock back a jug of hakutsuru ``draft'', but don't complain to me in the morning ;)
          --Why shouldn't we go by the technical argument? by your logic, we should put posts on any non-adventurous, mediocre local restaurants on the chains board because they're esthetically similar to chain food. by the way, the technical argument is quite simple -- sake (like beer) is a fermented grain beverage. fermented fruit beverages are generally called wine.
          --I'll concede the lack of carbonation. but hey, doesn't that mean veuve cliquot should go on the beer board? ;)
          --I'd agree that in the general population, wine people would probably tend to be more interested in sake than beer people would. but chowhound ain't the general populations. it's a pretty knowledgable crowd. those of us who frequent the beer board here, i would dare say, are just as cultured and sake-savvy as the people in the wine board.
          there. phew. now i need to go grab a sake. or maybe another beer.

          7 Replies
          1. re: tuqueboy

            One reason not to go by the technical argument is that the moved topic got five responses on the Wine board and no additional responses after it was moved to the Beer board.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              fair enough. touche. Ya got me. That one kinda trumps everything else.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I don't think the number of responses (based in this case on a single trial) should outweigh the fact that sake is a beer, pure and simple. It's the responsibility of the readers and posters to know the definition of the beverage under discussion.

                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                  Sake, huangjiu, and the base products for soju, shochu, awamori, and baijiu aren't what I'd call beer. The second fermentation is similar to beer brewing, but seigiku is very different from malting, and accounts for the much higher alcohol levels (typically 20%, often diluted before bottling).

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I believe you're comparing seigiku to mashing, not malting. Regardless, sake is still a fermented product made from grain.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      Seigigu is comparable to malting: in both, starch is converted to sugar.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        conversion of starch to sugar is mashing, not malting.

            2. I am soooo glad someone started this thread. I saw the move thing the other day and initially was suprised, but upon further reflection I do understand the logic and really agree!

              In fact (personal note) one of the reasons I don't like sake is that people are always trying to hype it as a substitute for wine, when it clearly is not. Its like a strong, flat unhopped rice beer. And thats just not to my taste.

              I do think that the "sake in the beer section" is a hard sell for most people though, and that the response will be lessened. As well, the staff will need to repeatedly move threads as hardly anyone will initially post in the Beer section. But we might as well start now. Look how long its taken to get the metric system in use here in the USA! oh. wait. its still not in use. bad example.

              2 Replies
              1. re: krushdnasty

                Yes, and like beer, it's traditionally served piping hot in small cups.

                By the technical definition above, whiskey should be classified as beer, too.

                Sake is sake, wine is wine, beer is beer, and distilled spirits are distilled spirits. Putting sake in a "beer" message board because it's a fermented grain beverage, however, is pedantry. And maybe more evidence of the shortcomings of CH's flat taxonomy of message boards. A system that allows for genuine subtopics that can all get wrapped into a broader topic view is a pretty obvious way to go. Passive, tightly-controlled tagging would be one good way to get there. And then we don't get into things like this, where there's a debate over whether to classify something based on what it tastes like and how it's consumed (wine-ish) or how it's created (beer-ish), when it's neither. It's sake.

                I sincerely doubt we have counterparts in Japan who are busy moving posts on beer from a general adult-beverages message board to the sake message board, because beer is made kinda like sake.

                1. re: hatless

                  Whiskey is not classified as beer because it's distilled and beer is not. And good sake is not served hot.

              2. Data point: the 3rd edition of *The Oxford Companion to Wine* has no entry for sake or rice wine.

                That said, I agree that most people, myself included, looking for sake threads wouldn't think of searching the Beer forum.

                "It may be rice wine to you, but it's sake to me." (Goldie Hawn, a second before getting clobbered on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in, ca. 1968).

                1. Sake doesn't fall perfectly into one specific board. In order to keep the conversation in one spot, we had to choose one of the less than perfect boards, and we chose beer because of the similarities in the process of making Sake and Beer. While other choices may have been equally appropriate for different reasons, we're not open to revisiting that decision.

                  1. Sake is a 2000+ year old beverage every bit as complex and fascinating as wine - - from history to production to the thousands of breweries today, the grades, flavor profiles, rice types/varietals, etc. People just don't know as much about it due to lack of exposure and/or exposure to it via scalding hot gut rot you get at most Japanese restaurants. Sake is in its infancy - - the exposure level is the equivalent to Boons Farm being the only wine offered in the U.S.

                    Sake is neither beer nor wine. Sake deserves it's own board. I know there must be some chowhounds out there that know about it and would agree. And problem solved!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: EatDrinkBeMerry

                      Avocados are great too but we don't need a dedicated avocado board.

                      1. re: Chris VR

                        Avocados, sake... yeah, that's the ticket, avocados Foster, vanilla ice cream, sliced ripe avocados, and sake flambe, a sure fire winner on next season's Top Chef.

                      2. re: EatDrinkBeMerry

                        If the notion of boards were turned into nested sets of tags, there could be a sake "board", an avocado "board" and a turkey-burger "board", ridiculous as it sounds, without fragmenting things. Posting something tagged with "sake" would also place it in the broader categories of (for instance) "alchoholic beverages" and "Japanese foods and beverages".

                        Visitors could look at listings of posts in categories as broad or as narrow as they want: the sake thread would show up in the general alcholic-beverages "board" if a causual visitor were browsing via a short list of broad topics like we have now, and it would show up in the sake "board" of an advanced user who isn't interested in wine or beer but wants to read posts about sake or another who wants to read the Japan equivalent of "General Topics". The most casual of users and the fussiest of hair-splitters could both find happiness. The two facts of life here -- that (1) sake isn't wine or beer and that (2) splitting sake off into its own obscue board would be unsustainable -- could be reconciled.