Kiki-shu shiken-hō

Sake tasting methods

Common methods of sake tasting include the following. (The Japanese names end with 法, ho, with a long “o”, meaning method.)

  1. Paired comparison method (2点比較法, ni-ten hikaku-ho, pea- tesuto).
    Two samples are assessed to judge whether one is clearly preferred, clearly sweeter, or so on.
  2. Three-point comparison (triangle; 3点比較法 san-ten hikaku-ho, toraianguru tesuto ).
    To establish similarities or preferences between two sakes, the tasters look for the odd one out amongst three samples.
  3. Duo-trio (1:2点試験法, ichi- ni-ten shiken-ho).
    A sample (S) is tasted in advance, and tasters then have to decide which of two sakes to be tasted is (S). Used in pre-shipping inspections.
  4. Matching (macchingu shiken-ho).
    Two sets of multiple samples are set up, and tasters look to match the various sakes in each group.
  5. Ranking method (格付法, kakuzuke-ho; 採点法, saiten-ho; 順位法, jun-i-ho
    Arranging a series of samples in order by preference, or in terms of a specified characteristic. Used in competition judging, assessing stock on delivery, prior to shipping, and such like.

Where the various methods are carried out with a small number of participants, it is advisable to carry them out a number of times. Results may also be analyzed in terms of statistical significance and so on.