This book is not just for sake lovers; it's a must read for anyone interested in Japanese culture. Exploring sake from a variety of perspectives in short but informative essays, John Gauntner here distills his 25 years of knowledge and experience living and working with this quintessential Japanese beverage.

Sake Confidential: A Beyond-the-Basics Guide to Understanding, Tasting, Selection & Enjoyment, by John Gauntner.Stone Bridge Press, Nonfiction.

Covering everything from the basics to more advanced topics, Gauntner reveals "pros and cons, honest realities" on the way the industry works, the truth between the connection of rice and flavor, a detailed delineation on sake yeast and even a debunking of the myths surrounding warm sake.

More importantly for those interested in Japanese culture as a whole, he extracts essential truths about women in traditional Japan ("Women in Kura"), presents a behind-the-scenes look at the Annual Japan Sake Awards for an appreciation of Japanese "vagueness," and a breakdown on Japanese food culture in "Pairing sake and Food in Japan." Each chapter contains a recommended sake and a brief description, showcasing the best from a variety of breweries across the nation. Gauntner also includes advice to augment your sake-tasting ability and recommendations for how to expand your knowledge.

As Gauntner admits in his conclusion, "Without its cultural underpinnings, sake is just another drink, ... but when you add in the history, methodology and skill that suffuse sake, you get a beverage that is special, appealing, and enduring." This book will broaden your overall knowledge of Japanese culture one sip at a time.