How to Drink Sake

By Leslie Radford

Sake is a fermented beverage that is often misunderstood by the American population. Often described as a rice wine, sake is actually brewed differently from wine. There are many ways to enjoy this beverage.

What is Sake?

Sake is a traditional Japanese drink that is made by fermenting rice and has a high alcohol content.

What is Sake?

Drinking Sake

Sake is a ceremonial drink and a cultural pastime in Japan. It is typically served in small ceramic or porcelain cups that look like shot glasses, but you should not “shoot” your sake. It is a sipping drink. In fact, request a wine glass and drink it as if you are drinking wine. This can bring out the flavor and aromas. 

Although sake is usually served warm, it’s also quite good either chilled, at room temperature, or hot. Cheaper sake is often warmed to disguise its low grade, and premium sake is served chilled.

Drinking Sake

Sake with Food

Sake is quite enjoyable with food. Traditionally, sake is enjoyed during the appetizer phase of the meal.

There are no rules saying you cannot enjoy your brew with your sushi, however, if it is too much rice for you, consume it with sashimi or nigari.

The drink pairs particularly well with spicy or citrusy dishes offering a nice contrast of flavors.

Different Types of Sake

Sake comes in so many different flavors, finishes, and serving temperatures. 

If you’re new to sake drinking, avoid ‘Koshu’ sake as it has a strong, rough taste. 

It’s also good to note the lower-grade ‘Futsu Shu.’

‘Namazake’ is a fresh, unpasteurized sake with a fruity taste and is great for novices and connoisseurs alike.

‘Junmai’ is a premium sake that is usually smooth and easier to drink.

What is Sake?

Experimenting with Sake

Sake is one of the most unique and versatile alcoholic beverages in the world. With so many different sake drinks to choose from, anyone can find one to enjoy. Experimenting with, serving, toasting, and drinking sake a great way to enhance your meal.

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