Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection, and Enjoyment

Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection, and Enjoyment

by John Gauntner


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With today’s sake drinkers increasingly informed and adventurous, now is the time for a truly expert guide to take you deeper into appreciation of this complex but delightful Japanese beverage, brewed from rice and enjoyed both warm or chilled.

And what better mentor than John Gauntner, the “Sake Guy” and the world’s leading non-Japanese sake educator and evangelist? Here in over two dozen no-holds-barred essays, John reveals “the truth about sake” from a connected insider’s perspective. No other book or website presents such a knowledgeable, practical, and concise yet complete guide to sake idiosyncrasies, misperceptions, and controversies.

Sake Confidential is the perfect FAQ for beginners, experts, and sommeliers. Indexed for easy reference with suggested brands and label photos. Includes:

  • Sake Secrets: junmai vs. non-junmai, namazake, aging, dry vs. sweet, ginjo, warm vs. chilled, nigori, water, yeast, rice, regionality
  • How the Industry Really Works: pricing, contests, distribution, glassware, milling, food pairing
  • The Brewer’s Art Revealed: koji-making, brewers’ guilds, grading

John Gauntner John Gauntner is the only non-Japanese certified Master of Sake Tasting. A resident of Japan since 1988, he has worked in the sake industry promoting and educating since 1994. Each year he conducts Sake Professional Courses for sake professionals and aficionados, and several of his students have gone on to open thriving sake shops, breweries, and izakaya in the United States.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611720143
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Publication date: 06/10/2014
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 4.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

John Gauntner is recognized as the world's leading non-Japanese sake expert and educator. He has lived in Japan since 1988, and has worked in the sake industry promoting and educating since 1994. He has written seven books, including two ebooks, across two languages and hundreds of articles on the topic, and is known for his for his uniquely concise and passionate way of conveying all aspects of sake, sake enjoyment, sake culture, sake history, and brewing technology. John also conducts several Sake Professional Courses each year for sake professionals and aficionados.

Known as "The Sake Guy," John is the only non-Japanese certified Master of Sake Tasting in the world, and has also achieved the very difficult Sake Expert Assessor certification from Japan's National Research Institute of Brewing. No other non-Japanese in the world has both of these certifications. He also received the Sake Samurai award in 2006, the first year it was awarded

John has been quoted and/or mentioned in sake related articles in countless publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes, Business Week, and Rolling Stone. He has spoken at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities, Wharton School of Business, and countless other venues across the US and Japan.

Much of each winter he is traveling around Japan, visiting breweries regularly and constantly learning. Other efforts at educating and edifying about sake include a free monthly sake newsletter ( and various digital products and e-books.

John is also author of Sake's Hidden Stories and The Sake Notebook, both self-published ebooks, and coauthor of Sake Pure and Simple (Stone Bridge Press, 978-1880656372, now OP).

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: “The Least You Need to Know About Sake”
  • What sake is vs. wine or beer or spirits
  • How long it has been around
  • How it is made
  • What makes a good one from a less good one, i.e. how to choose a sake safely
  • The grades and major types
  • Temperature, aging, storage, pairing with food
  • Alternative types like nigori, nama, yamahai that are mutually exclusive of grade


    1. The truth about junmai vs. non-junmai
    2. The truth about nama-zake
    3. The truth about aged sake
    4. The truth about the nihonshu-do
    5. The truth about ginjo
    6. The truth about sake purity
    7. The truth about the date on the bottle and “how old is too old”:
    8. The truth about warmed sake
    9. The truth about nigori-zake
    10. The truth about “tokubetsu”
    11. The truth about water
    12. The truth about yamahai and kimoto sake
    13. The truth about rice variety and sake flavor
    14. The truth about regionality in sake


    15. The Truth about the sake industry
    16. The truth about how sake is priced in Japan
    17. The National New Sake Tasting Competition
    18. The truth about how rice is distributed in Japan
    19. The truth about outsourcing in Japan
    20. The truth about sake glassware
    21. The truth about the milling rate for junmai-shu
    22. The truth about pairing sake and food in Japan


    23. The truth about koji-making.
    24. The truth about toji
    25. The truth about some aromatic sake.
    26. All brewers make all grades, and they start with the rough stuff.
    27. A million ways to make your moto: infinite variations


    28. How to develop your sake-tasting abilities
    29. Representative sake selections



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