How to enjoy Sake

One of the most important things to know is that sake is versatile and supportive of food.

Serving temperature

Sake can be chilled, room temperature or warm. 

The serving temperature for sake depends on several factors. For example the season, the weather of the day, the pairing with the food, one’s preferences, just to list some. Generally speaking, sake types like junmai daiginjo and junmai ginjo are better served slightly chilled, as they usually are more delicate. Sturdier types of sake like honjozo or kimoto are a joy for the palate when warm and they are great at room temperature. 

With sake though, nothing is black or white, so my suggestion for you is to “play” with it. Try each sake at different temperatures to see how you like it better. 

How to warm up sake at home

The easiest way would be to warm up water in a pot (water should be hot but not boiling!), then pour sake in a ceramic vessel, and submerge that vessel in the hot water.

Sake should be warmed up between 40C to 60C (100F to 140F). The breweries rarely write on the bottle the serving temperature, so the best thing to do is to run a couple of experiments to see what temperature we like it better. 

If it’s the first time for you, try your sake between 45C to 55C / 110F to 120F. It works for most sake ;)

Food pairing

This topic is as interesting as extensive. I just wanna leave here a few suggestions. 

To pair sake with food we can go by affinity or by contrasts

  • Pairing by affinity: this means pairing a sake that has a similar flavor profile with the dish. For example, a typical junmai daiginjo tends to be quite light, floral and delicate. It will pair nicely with salad, carpaccio, sashimi, grilled chicken with herbs, just to name a few.

  • Paring by contrast: this means pairing a sake that has a flavor profile that balances the flavor of the dish. For example, a kimoto type tends to have a good acidity. It’ll be perfect with grilled fish, which tends to be oily, fried chicken, or Chinese fried rice. 

What to do after opening a bottle

After opening a bottle, keep it in the fridge and drink it within a week. Sake, like wine, doesn’t like direct sunlight and prefers to be kept away from humidity.