This world’s dust

washed away

by a cup, proffered with grace

— Joro

It’s sake time. You’re at the world’s greatest sake celebration, staring at hundreds of bottles of beautifully arrayed sake. It’s more sake than you’ve seen in your life. And each one awaits your tasting pleasure. Where do you start?

Overcome by sake frenzy, many newbies simply head for the nearest table and start sampling. But there are ways to navigate the hundreds of choices, ways to maximize your sakesfaction.

Tip 1: Nobody can get through all 391 sakes, so don’t even try. Thirty to forty is a good sampling.

Tip 2: If you’ve never tried sake, start at the Daiginjo A tables. These top-line sakes are floral, nuanced, gentle—an excellent intro. Nearly half the sakes at The Joy of Sake will be daiginjos.

Tip 3: The sakes are divided into four categories: Daiginjo A, Daiginjo B, Ginjo and Junmai. Sample a few at each table to find the genre you like best. This will also give you a good idea of what type to order at restaurants.

Tip 4: Check the card in front of each sake: It’ll tell you if it won a gold or silver award at the U.S. National Sake Appraisal. No star doesn’t mean it’s bad—the overall level of the sakes is hard to match, even in Japan.

Tip 5: A black star on the card means that sake isn’t available in the U.S. The card will also tell you where the sake was made—notable because sakes display regional differences.

Tip 6: Don’t stress about searching for harmony of taste, aroma, body and balance. Everyone will have a different favorite. Just sip to find sakes you like.