Once a drink for middle-aged and elderly Japanese, sake brewers have introduced new varieties from sparkling sake to sake cocktails aimed at women and the young.

Now, these Japanese sake brewers want to spread the delicate taste of Japan's traditional alcoholic drink to New Zealand.

More than 40 brewers and sake specialists from Japan are heading to Auckland for a sake festival.

Brewer Munetaka Nakashima, of Genroku Inc, sees New Zealand as ideal place to grow the sake market.


"New Zealanders love their beer and wine, so it will not be too difficult for them to also love sake," Nakashima said.

"Like wine, every sake has its own distinctive taste. I am sure sake can become a third option for them."

His company is one of 1700 sake breweries in Japan, each producing a unique and distinctive product.

Korean-New Zealander Ellie Kim, 31, who describes herself as a light drinker, is a fan of yuzu "citrus-flavoured" sake.

"It taste really smooth, and I really enjoy the sweet citrus flavour," she said.

"I am not really a sake drinker, and don't drink much in general, but I don't really mind sweet flavoured sake."

The JFC-Auckland Food and Sake expo, the first of its kind in New Zealand, will be held at the ASB Showgrounds on October 15.

Organiser Kei Shimatani said the event will feature sake tasting and chefs presenting food and recipes that go well with sake.


There will be talks on the history of sake, brewing methods and stalls with speciality sake from the different breweries.

Participants will also learn the correct way of drinking sake, and how to match sake with their food.

Among the new sake that will be introduced are the sweet range, with alcoholic content that is lower than that of conventional sake.

Sake is made from rice, rice mould called koji in Japanese and water, and they vary in alcohol content.

But unlike wine, sake has no vintage and is not aged like wine.

Shimatani, whose company JFC NZ Limited is New Zealand's largest sake importer, said sake consumption here was on the rise.

"We have seen a 20 to 30 per cent increase just in the last year, and I think this has to do with the growing popularity of Japanese food in New Zealand," he said.

"We hope this event will help Kiwis discover, or rediscover, the taste and experience of drinking sake."