Niigata Prefecture, with its heavy snowfall, is famous for its sake, and sake from Niigata is enjoyed all over Japan.
Why is it famous for sake? The secret lies in the snow.
Water is the essence of sake
The main ingredients of sake are rice, rice malt, and water. Of these main ingredients, water accounts for about 80%.
The taste of the rice also depends on the water. It is clear that the quality of water is very important for sake.
Abundant snowmelt water produced in a snowy region
In Niigata Prefecture, a region with heavy snowfall, a lot of snow melt water is produced in spring and flows into rivers.
This melted snow water becomes "soft water" and gives Niigata sake its unique taste.
Hard Water vs Soft Water
There are two types of water: soft water and hard water.
The difference is simply how much calcium and magnesium is in the water, and whether it is hard water or soft water.
Here's definition of soft water and hard water according to WHO.
Hardness is most commonly expressed as milligrams of calcium carbonate equivalent per litre. Water containing calcium carbonate at concentrations below 60 mg/l is generally considered as soft; 60–120 mg/l,Hardness in Drinking-water Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality
moderately hard; 120–180 mg/l, hard; and more than 180 mg/l, very hard
Soft Water and Sake
As defined, soft water is characterized by low mineral content, including calcium. Many of the sake breweries in Niigata use soft water.
In this way, Niigata has produced a lot of delicious sake thanks to soft water, and this is also thanks to the snow.