Sake barrels at Itsukushima ShrineSake (Japanese: ; pronounced IPA: [s?.k?] Listen?) is a Japanese word meaning “alcoholic beverage”, which in English has come to refer to a specific alcoholic beverage brewed mainly from rice, and known in Japan as nihonshu (??? “Japanese alcohol”). This article uses the word “sake” as it is used in English.
Sake is widely referred to in English as “rice wine”. However, this designation is not entirely accurate. The production of alcoholic beverages by multiple fermentation of grain has more in common with beer than wine. Also, there are other beverages known as “rice wine” that are significantly different than nihonshu.