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    Pairing Sake with Food Based on Science

    25 Oct 2018


    In Western cuisine, cheese and butter are commonly used ingredients and dishes made with butter and cheese are known to pair well with fruity aroma wine. But did you know that sake also pairs well with Western food? There is a scientific explanation for that!

    There are two main types of butter, the cultured butter created by adding live bacteria which has a refreshing and rich flavor with noticeable acidity, and regular churned butter which has a neutral taste which is one of the reasons why cooks and bakers prefer using it. There is also margarine which is made from vegetable oil.  To make it solid, food scientists chemically change their structure using a process known as hydrogenation. Then flavorings, salt and emulsifiers are added into the margarine.

    The aroma of butter is made up of lactic acid, acetic acid, diacetyl, alcohols and the like produced by lactic acid bacteria during the fermentation process. In addition, propionic acid, caproic acid, butyric acid, capric acid form a deep and rich flavor. Advances in analytical methods have revealed that vanillin, dimethyl sulfide, methylbutanal and the like are also involved in fragrance.


    Natural cheese is made by adding rennet to milk and solidifying it. Lactic acid fermentation of this coagulation ingredient, and processed cheese made by dissolving several kinds of natural cheese and heating and dissolving it. Natural cheese is divided into soft cheese (soft cheese with aged surface, soft cheese aged to medium), semi-hard cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, etc. The aromatic ingredients of natural cheese has components transferred from raw milk and components produced by various microorganisms such as enzymes and lactic acid bacteria in protein and lactose, milk fat during maturation. However, components that have undesirable odor are also produced (ketones, amines, volatile fatty acids, volatile sulfur-containing compounds, aldehydes, etc.)

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    Organic acids contained in sake (mainly acetic acid) make the sharp taste of lactic acid contained in cheese feel as a mellow taste. While sake paired with butter gives you a smooth taste and alcohol in sake has a function to alleviate the greasiness. Furthermore, the esters contained in the sake mask the odor of fatty acids such as undesirable butyric acid contained in butter. Sake, which contains alcohols such isobutyl alcohol, isoamyl alcohol and phenethyl alcohol, has fruity scent and esters such furfural with fruity scent that help alleviate the unwanted smell of diacetyl and sulfur compounds in cheese.

    Therefore, we recommend pairing cheese with sake for a new taste experience. Please try this recipe below!


    1. Cut a well-chilled mozzarella cheese into bite size pieces.

    2. Pour a little bit of Konbu Ponzu on mozzarella cheese.

    3. Enjoy while drinking Eikun Junmai Ginjo Koto Sennen chilled!