5StarSake is the special section of 5StarWines dedicated to sake, one of Japan’s excellence and traditional products. Together with sushi, it is Japan’s best-known enogastronomic product abroad. Its original name is nihonshu: a term lost in translation, nihonshu means “Japanese alcoholic beverage”, while the Western denomination sake translates alcohol in general.

Nowadays, over 700 different kinds of sake are being made with several production methods, however using the same two fundamental ingredients: rice and water. On the last day of 5StarWines, renowned sake connoisseurs will blindly evaluate different kinds of the “Japanese rice wine”.



Participants in 5StarSake reaching the minimum evaluation score will be published and get a special boost on all of 5StarWines’ communication channels. The list of selected sake will work as a compendium for both the industry and professionals to get to know and select products present in Italy. The aim is to offer an independent quality assessment to guide professionals and consumers in their sake choice and experience.

All contestants will receive an official certificate of participation. Sake who has reached a higher evaluation score will also be given a Special Mention and receive a special mention certificate on top of all the above.

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Originally drank to drive away evil spirits, around since the eight century sake has been to Japanese people what wine is for Italians: drank on a daily basis and paired up with different kinds of food, the alcoholic drink can be found in any Japanese household. In recent times though, the younger generation started to regard sake as “old-fashioned”, preferring more international drinks.

If on the one hand Japan fell out of love with its national alcoholic drink, on the other, the rest of the world started to get butterflies for it. While the number of sakagura —sake’s production houses— dramatically dropped in the past 30 years, sake exports doubled in the last decade with the US and South Korea being top consumers.

In Europe, in contrast with the demands of other major countries like the UK and Germany, the Italian sake market is still quite small. Moreover, differently from the consumption of culinary products like sushi and soy sauce, sake started only very recently to appeal to Italian palates.

In the wake of this increasing approval, in 2017 Vinitaly set up a specific “sake area” at their VinInternational pavillion. With producers from at least 10 different Japanese prefectures and importers like Sake Company, Veronafiere introduced Japan’s national drink to wine aficionados. Following this path, 5StarWines also opened its doors to sake with 5StarSake.

5StarSake - Stevie Kim and Marco Massarotto

Chairman at 5StarSake Marco Massarotto, who is a pioneer of sake in Italy and has been named Sake Samurai from the JSS (Japan Sake Brewers association), commented:

Sake is a complex and much varied product with a rich history. Education to Sake and the exquisite selection of products presented at 5StarSake is therefore essential to its success in the country. With this special selection I am sure we’ll manage to make the best Sake gain visibility in Italy as well as help Italian consumers to explore this new world.

Encouraged by the growing number of Japanese restaurants in the country, the Italian interest in sake it’s now at its peak. How is sake produced? Which is the best product? How do you consume it? Can one pair it up with Italian traditional dishes? These are only some of the questions the Italian audience is starting to ask. Serving as a point of contact between the Italian request and the Japanese curiosity for Italian market, 5StarSake will answer those questions.

5StarSake - Assessment 2018

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