Last update: January 12, 2023.
Japanese culture and Chinese culture have always been intertwined. The kanji in the Japanese writing system, for example, are based on original Chinese characters. So we thought it would be fun to give you the best sake recommendations, but with a twist: We’re going to help you find the ideal sake for your Chinese zodiac sign!
These sake recommendations are based on the personality traits of each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. (If you’re asking “What is my Chinese zodiac sign?”, it’s based on the year you were born.) Are you confident? Kind? Playful? We identify the sake that’s the best match for you.
Years: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
According to legend, the order of the Chinese zodiac was determined by which place each of the animals took in the Jade Emperor’s race. Rat famously came in first, not because of its speed, but because of its cunning. (Rat hitched a ride on Ox and jumped off just before the finish line to win the race.) That’s why Rat people are clever, quick-witted and adaptable to any situation. We recommend a sake that is versatile and dynamic, just like you!
Recommended sake: Hakutsuru “Brewer’s Pride”
“Brewer’s Pride” by Hakutsuru is a light, dry “futsushu” (table sake) with a medium body. It’s a mellow, balanced sake that reveals different tasting notes depending on the temperature at which it is served. Just as Rat people can adapt on the fly, this everyday sake can pair with a number of different dishes
Years: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Ox is a strong, hardworking animal that can push through the toughest of circumstances. Ox people are the same way! Persistent and pragmatic, they keep their head down and persevere until their goal is reached. Ox people do not give up easily, so their sake should mirror their strength.
Recommended sake: Cowboy “Yamahai”
Shiokawa Brewing Company’s Cowboy “Yamahai” is the perfect sake for Ox, not just because it has a cow on the label, but because of its bold, smoky flavor. It is a rich, dry sake that is specifically designed to be paired with meat — especially at a backyard BBQ!
Years: 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Tigers pounce with passion and carry themselves with regal confidence. People with this Chinese zodiac sign are beautiful, yet wild; graceful, but adventurous. A sake that embodies Tiger spirit will be exciting and carry lots of unique flavor dimensions. Tiger’s bravery necessitates a drink that makes a statement!
Recommended sake: Tedorigawa “Iki na Onna”
Translated to English as “Lady Luck,” “Iki na Onna” is brewed specifically for the Association of Lady Sake Retailers. It’s a limited batch sake that boasts enticing aromas of cardamom, cinnamon and apple. Splashed with wild honey, this light, dry brew is a parade of well-balanced flavors, alluring and confident like the Tiger.
Years: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
These kind souls project elegance and tranquility. Rabbit people truly wish the best for everyone, but stand alert and ready to act should they need to. They are gentle and quiet, but they are not pushovers. The right sake will express this duality.
Recommended sake: Nito “Yamadanishiki 55”
Maruishi Brewing Company’s Nito brand literally means “two hares,” and features two rabbits facing each other on the label. This represents the brewery’s goal of crafting one sake that expresses different flavors by striking the ideal balance. In “Yamadanishiki 55,” umami, sweetness and a touch of acidity come together in a floral and fruity ginjo, like an agile rabbit hopping and weaving its way through a spring garden.
Years: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
The Dragon is one of the most powerful symbols of the East, representing leadership, pride and ambition. Dragon people are of the same caliber, often described as charismatic and independent. The best sake for Dragon people would be one that is equally noble and top-of-its-class.
Recommended sake: Yuki no Bosha Kachou Gesseki “Morning Flower, Evening Moon”
Saiya Brewing Company’s “Morning Flower, Evening Moon” is an award-winning competition sake that has been recognized again and again for its sophistication. Linden flower and yuzu citrus strike an exquisite balance that is best experienced when served at a cold temperature. It really is one-of-a-kind.
Years: 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Snakes are animals that often get a bad rap, but they aren’t all bad in the Chinese zodiac! Snake people are known for being intelligent, calm and mysterious. They have a keen sense of perception and are very deliberate in how they go about things, but can give off an air of aloofness. A suitable sake would capture Snake’s intellectual depth and beguiling nature.
Recommended sake: Gasanryu “Gokugetsu”
“Gokugetsu” by Shindo Brewing Company was crafted for the Annual Japan Sake Awards. It is a smooth, light and dry daiginjo bearing undertones of rose, dark berries and sweet melon. Bask in the allure of this sake as an aperitif before a good meal.
Years: 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Horses prance, whinny and use their admirable strength and slickly designed bodies to generate great speed. Likewise, those with the Horse sign are lively and talented. Their boundless energy and outgoing demeanor means they love to socialize. These people are strong and courageous, so they are always ready to kick into high gear. The right sake will mimic Horse’s enthusiastic spirit.
Recommended sake: Okunomatsu “Yuzutoro”
Fukushima prefecture’s Okunomatsu Brewing Company makes a delightful, vibrant yuzu sake. “Yuzutoro” is a rich, sweet beverage with a bright citrus flavor that is sure to put some pep in your step when served over ice.
Years: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Sheep people are even more docile than their gracious friend Rabbit. But whereas Rabbit is fast, Sheep can be slow or even hesitant. The most gentle and sympathetic sign of the Chinese zodiac, Sheep needs a sake that embraces their sweet, mellow personality.
Recommended sake: Eiko Fuji “10,000 Ways”
Eiko Fuji is given the name “10,000 Ways” because it is just that accommodating. This light, sweet sake will happily pair with any meal at a variety of temperatures. Whatever mood you’re in, Eiko Fuji will oblige!
Years: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Monkey is affectionately known as the prankster of the zodiac. These social, playful people bring joy to others. They are smart, opportunistic and funny. When drawing a parallel to sake, we recommend something that is bright, flavorful and a little outside-the-box.
Recommended sake: Mutsu Hassen “Pink Label”
“Pink Label” comes to you from Hachinohe, a brewing company in northern Japan. This light, sweet ginjo offers a floral aroma and a sugary flavor, similar to cotton candy or bubble gum. If you’re looking for a playful, fun sake, this is the one!
Years: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Rooster people always want to be the best at what they do. Tenacious and smart, they love to solve problems and firmly believe they can do whatever they set their mind to. Their preferred sake would be one that is persistent and discerning — more for the connoisseur than the amateur.
Recommended sake: Daishichi “Minowamon”
This innovative brew is the first Daishichi sake to be produced via the brand’s super flat rice polishing technique. “Minowamon” beckons with a rich, intoxicating aroma before pulling you in with flavor notes of fruit and sweet rice. The depth and finesse of this aged sake earned it great recognition at the Vinexpo.
Years: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Dogs have been companions of humans for thousands of years, and people with the Dog zodiac sign are just as loyal. They are sensitive but also honest, so they will often be direct. These caring, dependable people would vibe with a classic yet lively sake, just like man’s best friend.
Recommended sake: Eiko Fuji “Junmai Ginjo”
Eiko Fuji’s “namachozo” sake has been holding down the fort in Yamagata prefecture for 13 generations. It is a light, dry sake that owes its vibrant fruit flavors, such as mango and apple, to the fact that it’s only pasteurized once. Serve it cold with a yummy plate of sushi!
Years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
Like Dog, Pig (also called Boar) is a sign you can count on. Pig people are responsible and sincere; they will always tell the truth and provide support. In addition to being compassionate, they are also task-oriented, like Ox, and will diligently work toward their goal. The best sake for Pig will channel their calm personality, as well as their determined work ethic.
Recommended sake: Sawanotsuru “Minume”
From one of the largest sake breweries in Hyogo prefecture comes “Minume,” a kimoto daiginjo that is truly a labor of love. It takes long, hard work to achieve a full, robust flavor. Its floral, smooth and slightly smoky taste conjures up a soothing, earthy aroma.