If you’ve been following along on our journey of food and saké, you know saké makes an ideal partner for everything from sushi and sashimi to deep-fried cheese doughnuts. Now it’s time to let saké strut its stuff in what may be our most unexpected pairing yet – with prosciutto.

Jfoodo, Sake campaign, squaremeal

Given the cured meat’s Italian heritage, we don’t blame you for having it with Prosecco time and time again. But try your plate of prosciutto with a glass of thoughtfully selected saké and you’ll bid goodbye to your bubbly, as you’ll no longer be satisfied by anything but the robust flavour of the Japanese drink.

Sake choices, sake lineup, lots of sake

Credit: Sebastian Higgins

Finding the perfect saké

Think about why prosciutto and other cured meats taste so darn good: it’s their salty, fatty, primal flavour – their meatiness – that keeps you coming back for more. So it makes sense that a rich, vibrant saké with bold umami notes would be an excellent companion to prosciutto as the drink’s strong character matches that of the charcuterie.

There’s another path to prosciutto and saké harmony also: mellower sakés can be a great option as their flavours work in contrast by drawing attention to the saltiness of the meat.

Sake and proscuitto

It's all about umami when it comes to pairing saké  and prosciutto

The right combination

Yes, these dual paths to harmony mean you’re spoilt for choice when picking a saké to enjoy with your charcuterie, but there are a few key points to consider as you make your selection.

If you want a saké that stands up to the deep savoury flavours of charcuterie look for richer, umami-driven styles. Something with a rich mouthfeel and earthy notes will bring out the smokiness and nuttiness of the prosciutto. Consider sakés in the funky, intense styles of yamahai and kimoto, or a fuller, heavier junmai (pure rice wine) type.   

For a different approach, go for a saké that’s a bit fruitier – think notes of ripe melon, pear or apple – with refreshingly crisp, clean acidity. This flavour profile will enhance the saltiness and fattiness of the ham, while highlighting its silky texture. Consider the traditional dish of melon-wrapped prosciutto in this light.

Your guide to saké and prosciutto in London

Enough chat – it’s time you discover the brilliance of this harmony for yourself. Check out some of London’s finest the prosciutto and saké restaurant offerings.

Caesar Salad at oblix

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Caesar salad with a view at Oblix

Saké and a view at Oblix

Oblix in The Shard not only has spectacular views but a delicious pairing of Caesar salad, crispy cured ham and Parmesan with Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai. The slightly nutty, toasty saké boosts the smoky flavours of the cured ham, bringing the dish’s bold umami character to the forefront. What’s more, the saké’s full-bodied texture stands up to the creaminess of the dressing, yet it has enough crispness and acidity to keep the palate refreshed between bites. Adding the truffle flatbread with pancetta and ricotta to your order should satisfy larger appetites. While pancetta and prosciutto certainly aren’t the same, the Tamagawa works with the pancetta’s salty, fatty flavour in a similar way.

Parma ham and melon at novikov

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Parma ham and melon at Novikov

Simply the best at Novikov

To experience saké and prosciutto together in their purest forms, Italian restaurant Novikov is the place to dine. Keep things simple and order the Parma ham – aged for 30 months – with melon and the Ginjo Yumegoyomi Fukuju. The saké is crisp, clean and fresh, with lovely notes of stone fruit. When enjoyed together, the saké’s fruitiness works with the flavour of the melon to amplify the prosciutto’s saltiness, resulting in a combination that’s both light and moreish.

Keen to see how saké holds up against a variety of cured meats? Be bold: try the selection of Italian charcuterie with the Tenzan, and don’t forget to take notes on your favourite combinations.

Cut at 45 interior

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Try the Italian burrata with prosciutto di parma at Cut at 45

A cut above at 45 Park Lane

Chef Wolfgang Puck’s sleek restaurant Cut at 45 Park Lane in Mayfair is a Californian import known for its steaks – but you’re going for the prosciutto and saké. Order the Italian burrata with prosciutto di Parma and zingy pineapple chutney and the Tenzan Shichida Junmai 75, and prepare yourself for next-level flavour. The saké’s fruitiness works beautifully with the savoury prosciutto, and it’s rich enough to match the decadence of the soft, delicate burrata. There are notes of pear and hints of papaya that play off of pineapple chutney, and together they lift the whole dish with their acidity. Room for more? We hear that saké goes down a treat with Wagyu, too…

To read more about how saké is made and the best ways to enjoy it, click here.

To read about how to match saké with sushi, click here.

To read about matching saké and cheese, click here.

And to find out more about food and saké matching, visit foodandsake.com.