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Reading Sake Bottle Labels

Being able to read will help you learn a great deal about the sake in the bottle.  You can figure out its flavor profile by seeing things like the SMV, acidity, ABV, and you can even tell what temperatures makes that sake taste its best.

The following pictures and associated info are taken from the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association web page.

Back Label Info


  • 1.Rice varietal The rice varietal used is also listed on the back label.

  • 2.Yeast The name of the yeast used for this sake is listed.

  • 3.Sweetness/Dryness The sake is classified into one of several categories, indicating the tendency of its flavor: sweet, medium sweet, medium dry, or dry.

  • 4.Rice Polishing Ratio The rice polishing ratio is listed for sakes with specially designated sake classifications.

  • 5.Sake Meter Value An index showing the specific 'gravity' of the sake. The standard is 0, and if the value is a high positive number (+), the sake will tend to be dry, If it is a low negative number (-), it will tend to be sweet.

  • 6.Acidity An index showing the amount of total acidity in the sake. When the acidity level is high, the sake will tend to be rich and tart, and when it is low, it will tend to be light and sweet.

  • 7.Amino Acid content An index of the amino acids in the sake. Higher numbers tend to indicate sakes with more umami.

  • 8.Recommended Drinking Styles Indicates the estimated temperatures to bring out the best of that sake's flavor.

Rear Sake Bottle Example
Sample Sake Bottle Front

Front Label Info


  • 1.Alcohol content The number of milliliters of alcohol per 100ml of sake.

  • 2.Ingredients In addition to rice and rice koji, brewer’s alcohol is generally used to bring out aromas in the sake.

  • 3.Product name This is expressed as nihonshu or seishu in Japanese.

  • 4.Date of Manufacture This shows when the sake was bottled in the container.There is no consume-by date, because the quality of properly stored sake does not change for a few years.

  • 5.Specially Designation For sake with designated naming, the classification will be listed.

  • 6.Rice varietal The rice varietal name and usage ratio is listed.

  • 7.Sake name The unique brand name of the sake.

  • 8.Manufacturer's name and address

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