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Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It dates to at least the 3rd century AD. Sake is light in colour and noncarbonated, with a sweet flavour; its alcohol content is about 18% by volume. Often mistakenly called a wine, sake is closer in its method of manufacture to beer. Steamed rice is combined with a mold that converts the rice starch to fermentable sugars; the mix is kneaded into a paste, twice fermented (with fresh rice and water added), filtered, and bottled. In Japan, where it is the national beverage and the traditional drink of the Shinto gods, sake is warmed in a small earthenware or porcelain vessel before being blessed and served in small porcelain cups.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sake, visit Britannica.com.