keiichiro miyagawa sake sommelier

Food Pairing: Three perfect sake for the French palate according to Keiichiro Miyagawa

We discussed with Keiichiro Miyagawa, founder of GALERIE K PARIS in 2010. An expert in wine and also in sake, a sommelier in the typical Japanese drink, he gives us three references in sake for a perfect pairing.


Today, the influence of Japanese culture, its culinary art, sake, art objects and animated films, is growing and evolving in the world. What we Japanese send through our culture is now diversified. But now is the time to share with the world our cultural values from France, the country that has a strong cultural prestige.

That is why, to this end, we are creating the Kura Master Association. The great Japanese Sake contest. We work with different partners who reside in France, both French and Japanese.

Our objective is to help develop a more dynamic cultural diversity between France and Japan for future generations. This is done through the exchange of ideas, objects, food, sake, wine. But also, by encouraging tourism, etc. We are here to contribute to our own future by creating an international network with the through this association.

Keiichiro Miyagawa


Kei is an essential figure of sake in Paris, he is vibrant and loves his job as an ambassador of sake in Paris. I met him through my friend Patrick Duval who has a sublime restaurant, “isse“, Rue Richelieu in Paris.

We went together to Japan to discover sake. In Kobe, Japan, where we went to taste sake with Kobe beef “to die for”… I love these different subtleties.


Three sake for the French palate

Here are three sake recommended by Keiichiro Miyagawa, and their respective agreements for an ideal food pairing.


1. Kuheiji 50, Junmai Dai ginjo

Kuheiji 50 is a fruity, floral and elegant sake. Moreover, it is often called water of desire. Three stars for this sake well served everywhere nowadays, and with caviar together it goes very well. Caviar, iodized side.


2. Nogomi, junmai “Omachi”

A really particular older variety of rice from the tokutei-meisho-shu (=premium sake). With a really spicy scent, and drier, it goes very well with wild ducks or game, wild boars, grilled, with mysterious sauces: veal stock with lemongrass. Spicy, yet wild. The umami comes out a lot.


3. Hichida 50, Junmai Dai ginjo

A more fruity, floral, charming sake with a side where you can smell a little Israeli melon, walleye banana, Japanese white peach. In addition, this sake can be served with saint-pierre carpaccio with grains of salt and yuzu juice. On the other hand, you can feel its Japanese side very fine to serve. Carpaccio, sea side and iodized, citrus fruit.


The particularity of sake

Unlike traditional wine, sake goes very well with a variety of flavours. In addition, umami, a flavor considered as the 5th flavor in addition to sweet, salty, bitter and acid, can be detected during sake tasting. It is described as a pleasant taste that is similar to sweetness.

Today’s gastronomic fashion increasingly tends to use fermented foods, which are rich in umami. Sake is fermented by Koji, thanks to which the umami component including amino acid, while it is almost not contained in the wine despite the fermentation. It is also more interesting that sake is SO2-free as a natural wine!


Sake pairing – tastes


-Smoked and dry



-Spicy (wasabi, ginger, cumin, wild spices)

-Iodized (Japanese seaweed, kombu, nori, wakame)

-And all kinds of shellfish (scallops, sea urchins, crabs.)


Glossary of Sake Terms



It is a subdivision of Sake Ginjo made from rice from which more than 50% of the outer layer of the grain has been removed. Its flavour is even more refined and its ginjo-ka more powerful.


Junmai and Tokubetsu Junmai

They are made exclusively from rice, koji and water, thus enhancing the aromas of rice and koji. There are no specific requirements for rice polishing rates. Junmai is slightly sweet and generally develops a high umami (tasty taste) and acidity.


Junmai Ginjo

Jumnai Ginjo Sake is made using the same processes as Ginjo Sake (without the addition of neutral alcohol), which gives it a low acidity and a slight umami. Like Sake Ginjo, this type of Sake is also distinguished by a clear Ginjo-ka.


Junmai Daiginjo

Jumnai Daiginjo is made using the same processes as Sake Ginjo (without the addition of neutral alcohol), which gives it a low acidity and a slight umami. Like Sake Ginjo, this type of Sake is also distinguished by a clear Ginjo-ka.



In Honjozo Sake, the emphasis is on flavour. Ginjo-ka and the aromas resulting from maturation are not very noticeable. Its levels of acidity and umami are moderate, the objective of this sake is to enhance the flavours it accompanies rather than the sake itself.


Futsu sake or ordinary sake

It constitutes the majority of Sake produced in Japan. Futsu, takes generally 70% polished rice during the manufacture process. Plus, it requires a quantity of neutral alcohol equivalent to 20% of the quantity of polished rice. Its aroma is less pronounced than that of premium sake.

The best Futsu have a slight caramel aroma developed during the maturation process. Unlike the higher sake categories, it is difficult to accurately describe the aromas and flavors of regular sake because they vary greatly from one region of Japan to another.


Sake made by other methods

Nigorizake (Cloudy sake)

Its appearance is comes from yeasts and fine particles of suspended rice. In addition, to having a pronounced rice taste. The cloudy appearance takes place in the filtration process, in which they use a coarser mesh filter.


Namazake (Unpasteurized sake)

It has the flavour of a freshly brewed sake. Sake usually pasteurizes twice before bottling. First, the first pasteurization is to sterilize the contents of the bottle. But also to stabilize its quality by putting an end to the action of enzymes. The second pasteurization takes place just before bottling. Namazake instead do not undergo the pasteurization process at all.


Koshu (Aged sake)

It takes colours from yellow to amber and has a subtle Ginjo-ka. In addition, a caramel aroma similar to sherry and Madeira wine. It develops a slight bitterness characteristic of Sake that ages. Sake usually ages for short periods of time ranging from 6 to 12 months. Koshu ages for a minimum of 3 years, during which time the colour and flavour change due to Maillard reactions between sugars and amino acids in sake.


Genshu (Undiluted sake)

After producing a Genshu, adding water is not required, unlike the traditional manufacturing process. Which makes Genshu a sake with a high alcohol content, between 17% and 20%. Its taste is usually strong.


Taruzake (Sake in cask)

Taruzake stores for a while in a barrel made of Japanese cedars. This brings the finished product a pleasant woody aroma.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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