Everything you want to know about how to drink sake

Sake is Japan’s signature beverage. It's made by fermenting rice.

Just like wine in France, sake in Japan can be incredibly refined and nuanced.

According to Tokyo sake sommelier, Satoko Utsugi, there is a sake variety for any palate and any dish.

The first lesson? Don’t call it sake

In Japanese, "sake" refers to any alcoholic beverage, from wine to beer. "Nihon-shu" will get you the rice wine that most refer to as sake.

Before the 1960’s, nihon-shu production was limited to temples and shrines, as it was used for ceremonies. Nowadays, anyone is allowed to brew their own nihon-shu.

Here are some pro tasting tips from sommelier Utsugi that will enhance your nihon-shu experience.

Look at the rice polishing ratio

Brewers polish rice before brewing. The more polishing, the higher quality of liquor. Nihon-shu with lower ratios are at the top.

Consider the way it's brewed

The temperature of fermentation, whether or not it's diluted and how long the nihon-shu has aged will factor into the flavor.

What temperature should sake be?

It can be enjoyed at temps ranging from 5 to 55 degrees Celsius. Utsugi says the serving temperature should be based on the type of sake.

Serving vessels matter

Pottery ware is for warm sake and glassware for room temperature sake. Wider-lipped vessels go with subtle sake, while narrower ones concentrate the nose of aromatic sake.

Think about seasonality

Newest sakes, Shinshu, are available November to April. Hiyaoroshi and Akiagari are aged for six months and are generally available in September.

Consider food pairings

Just like wine, nihon-shu’s flavors can enhance and be enhanced with particular food pairings.

The world of sake is vast!

Though it's a drink with a lot of history, new trends are always emerging.



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