World Sake Day Pays Tribute To Japan's Iconic Rice Wine

Neither a spirit, beer, or wine, sake occupies a unique category among alcoholic beverages. That's all due to its totally unique production process, which has a parallel fermentation. The starch molecules in rice break apart simultaneously to the fermentation of alcohol. Orchestrating such a process requires a wealth of techniques, but the result is dry, smooth, and intricately aromatic.

Sake is esteemed in Japan, enjoyed in settings running from convenience stores to an elevated pairing during fine dining. And its enjoyment continues to be promoted– hence the creation of World Sake Day. Held on October 1st, the celebration offers both admiration towards production as well as a special reason to open a bottle.

With both virtual events and in-person festivities, World Sake Day has emerged as a worldwide occasion to salute the beverage. All a good reason for you to take part in it, too. Let's dive into the specifics.

Background of World Sake Day

World sake day traces back to 1978, when Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association noted it as a special date. Its purpose continues to be to distinguish farmers and producers involved in the production of the labor-intensive beverage.

Why October 1st for the celebration?. First, it coincides with the end of the rice harvest, which typically occurs in September. October is when fermentation of the rice beverage kickstarts, interlinking with the creation of sake. Until 1965, October 1st was even utilized as the starting date for the brewery year, which corresponds to the date listed on the bottle. Today, the brewery year delineation has shifted to July 1st.

The second reason is due to the kanji utilized in the Japanese language. The symbol that represents the drink also doubles in meaning for the rooster, which is the 10th zodiac in the calendar, in the same position as October. While it's unlikely this was the principal motivation, it may have served as an additional selection rationale.

How world sake day is celebrated

Today, World sake Day is noted through a multitude of events, held both in Japan and abroad. Many are organized by the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, especially through their information center based in Tokyo. A notable example includes the Kampai week Livestream, which connects sake lovers and producers through the internet. In-person tastings, food pairings, and celebrations are often organized at breweries and restaurants. While easier to find in Japan, events take place in the U.S., too. For example, a Texan sake producer took part in 2022, as did the American Sake Association based in Brooklyn.

Alternatively, many engage in the event by purchasing sake and enjoying it in the home. Some sellers even discount leading up to the event. The holiday's aim is to promote the tasty fermented beverage, so it's a worthy cause to imbibe. With a single sip, even infrequent sake drinkers will understand the drink's appeal.