I hadn't heard of natsuzake (夏酒, summer sake) before yesterday's news snippet on a day in the life of a sake educator (and if you happen to be the ones in question, also a manzai comedian). A link from that story led to an article on the Sake Times site that discusses its origins. The article is from 2015, so not really news but it was new to me.
Sake Times claims that the term dates back to... 2007, when it was introduced by the Sake Service Institute (SSI) in response to lack of demand for sake during the hot summer months in Japan. Each brewery will have its own take on what's good for drinking in the summer, so there are many possibilities including:
- Refreshing white wine-like sake with strong acidity
- Namazake with its fresh flavour
- Well-chilled genshu on the rocks
- Nigorizake with nutrition from rice (whether this "nutrition" outweighs drinking alcohol is up for debate)
The article also makes an interesting point that having terms that don't as one specific thing (like natsuzake/summer sake) may make things more confusing for people who don't drink sake, but they see it as part of sake's charm.
- Original article (Sake Times, 11 August 2015)
- Sake Service Institute/SSI (Japanese)
- Sake Service Institute International/SSI International (English)