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Chris’ Sake Corner – The Criminally Underrated Ginjo

Chris’ Sake Corner – The Criminally Underrated Ginjo

Greetings Sake Fans and Connoisseurs,

Chris here, back at it with another newsletter column. Of course, more of the usual sake rambling. But this time around, I wanted to talk about the criminally underrated Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo sake category. The lack of respect that Ginjos have in the United States bums me out.

This all stems back to the #1 question that every Japanese sake industry person asks me when they visit True Sake: "What is your most popular sake?" Sure, we
can look at actual data, and that will tell you that our best sellers are DassaiWakatake JDG "Demon Slayer"Kubota Manju, etc. AKA, "The Classic Style." The Classics are most popular with older drinkers usually, or drinkers with limited access to sake. They get what they can, they like what they like. I get it. I'm a creature of habit too.

But then also, there are some people that like what's hot in Japan. AKA, "The Modern Style." Do names like JikonZaku, or Gakki Masamune ring a bell? Usually the more savvy sake customers have got their ears to the sake streets, and want to drink what they just had in Shibuya, or what they just had in Gion. They want what's available in Japan, and not some re-label for their home country. If it's trendy in Japan now, we are lucky to see that trendy sake here in the US in 6-12 months give or take. These modern brands are taking off in the US, especially in San Francisco.

But the one thing that both the modern style and the classic style have in common, and what truly is the most popular within both these groups, is the Junmai Daiginjo/Daiginjo. Customers have been trained to ask for this only. Which I get. It's safe. You're almost guaranteed to have a good bottle when ordering from a menu regardless of where you are in the US. But what often gets overlooked is the now criminally underrated Junmai Ginjo/Ginjo.

The problem is, Ginjo is often seen as inferior to the Daiginjo. And of course, objectively speaking, the numbers are right there. Yes, the Ginjo is milled to at least 60 percent. But there's been a shift lately with brewers milling to 50 percent and calling that their Ginjo, which you can totally do since the rule is "60 percent OR LESS." Let's talk about some Ginjos that very often get overlooked because quite simply, it's not a Daiginjo.


Shuho OmachiBenten SawaneTenmeiSankan "Triple Crown", Aizu Chujo, etc. are all vastly underrated Ginjo sakes that quite frankly, need more love. Also worth mentioning, that the Ginjo style is usually priced more affordably than a Daiginjo style. There's a common misconception that the more you pay for sake, the better it is. Again, absolutely not true.

As you are contemplating what sake to try next, or what sake you should gift for the holidays, I highly recommend trying a Ginjo style sake.

Till next time! See you in 2024!

Assistant Manager

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