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SAKE: Learn everything about the Drinking Tips, Types, and Etiquette
Enjoying your sake? Maybe it’s time to pause for a moment and do a quick check about sake -- how to drink it, and make sure that you are respecting age-old Japanese traditions when filling up with this old world drink.
Key Facts About Sake You Must Know
Sake wine is made from fermented rice. What makes following traditions for drinking sake important is that sake evolved from Shintoism, a religion founded in Japan. Today, the Japanese continue to practice traditional ways of serving and drinking sake. You should, by all means, learn these traditions if you prefer to keep enjoying sake rice wine but not become offensive by being ignorant of these practices.
There are three ways to serve and enjoy sake. Sake may be served:
- Chilled (Reishu). JUNMAI GINJO Sparkling Sake - 30cl, for examples is best served chilled to make its refreshing, fruity character stand out.
- At Room Temperature (Joon). This serves up sake in its unadulterated form and many prefer it so.
- Warm (Okan). Prepared by placing the tokkuri (porcelain flasks) in boiling water, the sake is cooled down to the ideal temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit before serving.
There are 5 different types of sake:
- Table Sake is the cheapest and most common of all sake which is typically served hot.
Honjozo. Does not follow any standard for rice polishing, and is added with a small of amount distilled alcohol.
Junmai. This is also known as Premium Sake.
Ginjo & Daiginjo. These are already considered Super Premium Sake.
- Junmai Ginjo & Junmai Daiginjo. These types are the best of the breed of super premium sake.
- Sake is an alcoholic drink. So, how much alcohol is in sake? Most brands of sake come with alcohol content of 14% to 20% ABV.
- Naturally, you must also understand, Does sake give you a hangover? Just because sake continues to be made traditionally, without most of the chemicals found in modern alcohol brands, it does not mean that it can’t give you a hangover. Keep in mind that it has alcohol content and anything with alcohol that has been excessively consumed can give you a hangover.
- When using sake for cooking, note that not all sakes will be good for this purpose. Go for ryori shu or cooking sake or, substitute for Mirin, which is similar to sake but with lower alcohol content, and is more specifically made for cooking.
- Sake is now made to carry a wide variety of flavours. Traditional sake has a mild taste. Modern creations has made a wide variety of sake flavors available. Just like wine, your sake may come with the flavours of peach, wine, and plum, among others.
How do you drink sake?
Let’s get down to business. Below are key pointers to keep in mind, most especially when capping the night off with some entertainment and a handful of potential Japanese business partners:
- Sake is traditionally served in tokkuri. Serving chilled sake in tall wine glasses has become acceptable, particularly in western countries.
Never pour sake for yourself. Wait for your companion to fill your cup, and you should fill your companion’s cup too.
Make sure that both of your hands are on the tokkuri, with your left hand at the base, when pouring sake for your company.
When receiving your drink, make sure you have both hands on your sake cup as well, and raise it to a minimal height to receive the sake from the tokkuri as your companion pours it for you.
The Japanese cheer, “Kampai” when toasting with a sake.
Sake is enjoyed over appetizers and seldom with a full meal.
- Sake is meant to be taken in short sips so never take it as a shot.
Sake -- where to buy?
It takes time to find the right type of sake that will suit your personal preference for wine. Even then, not all brands falling under the same type of sake will offer, more or less, the same taste. So, the best way to go around sake is to taste test.
The GEKKEIKAN Daiginjo Sake with Ochoko Cup 18cl comes highly recommended. Plus, its traditional packaging in a tokkuri flask with the cap doubling as a ceramic cup for serving sake, will also add character to your home mini bar.
Rules Of Engagement
Sake is a traditional drink that is heavily surrounded by customs. It will do you good to know what’s in your drink but, in the case of sake, it becomes inevitable to know the hows as well. Keep in mind that the more formal the occasion for why sake is being served, the more you should be mindful of Japanese customs. On the other hand, if you’re just taking sake for your own enjoyment, pour it and pair with it however way you want. Enjoy it just as any other wine is supposed to be.