Enjoying Sake

Sake is a versatile beverage enjoyed at a range of serving temperatures. With the exception of namazake, namachozo-shu and certain premium sakes which must be served chilled or over ice, many sake varieties may be served chilled, room temperature or warmed.

Kan

Warmed sake, or kan, is a common choice in the cooler months. When heated, the fullness of body becomes more pronounced. However care must be taken to avoid overheating which can effect the perception of taste. In general, it is recommended to serve kan sake at 40-50°C (104-122°F)

Hiya

Chilled sake, or hiya, assumes a fresh, fruity characteristic and is particularly suitable for premium sake varieties. This style reaches its peak of popularity in warmer weather but is appropriate throughout the year.

Recommended Serving Temperature by Sake Variety
Serving Temperatures and the Relation to Sake

Traditional Japanese culture makes frequent use of sake as a way to observe seasonal holidays or mark a special event. Sake is imbibed on such occasions as toasting the New Year, celebrating a local festival or solemnizing a wedding vow. Whether served in an antique porcelain cup or small wooden box (masu), whether spiced with herbs or garnished with flower petals, sake plays a special role in ceremonial aesthetics.

Today, sake is most often enjoyed according to personal preference in casual atmospheres and is perfectly suitable for serving in a wine glass.

Sake and Cuisine

Sake is most popular with Japanese cuisine but today is a popular complement to other Asian cuisine as well as vegetarian, fish, poultry and cross-over “fusion” dishes. Sake's characteristic delicate taste and fragrance makes it an ideal choice for healthy and light foods.

Storing Sake

Sake is best stored unopened in a cool, dark place. Heat, oxidation, direct sunlight and fluorescent lighting alter the sake's quality and should be avoided.

Serving Temperatures and the Relation to Sake

Sake is a naturally brewed beverage and may be enjoyed in a number of ways.

Temperature Term Characteristic
Served over crushed or chipped ice Mizore
“snowy rain”
Overall impression is very refreshingly cool.
Served over
ice cubes
On the Rocks Cool and easy to drink. Fragrance is faint. As ice melts, the sake is diluted and assumes a light quality.
5°C (41°F) Yuki-bie
“snow chill”
Fragrance is very light and a dry taste becomes prominent.
10°C (50°F) Hana-bie
“flower chill”
Fragrance is subtle and the acidity becomes more distinct.
15°C (59°F) Ryo-bie
“refreshing chill”
Taste and fragrance are well-balanced.
20°C (68°F) Room Temperature Natural sense of flavor and taste inherent in sake can be enjoyed; total effect is mild.
35°C (95°F) Body Temperature Fragrance increases with increase in temperature. Taste feels comparatively sweet.
45°C (113°F) Moderately Warmed Fragrance becomes more prominent. Balance of sweetness, acidity and bitterness improve in certain kinds of sakes; flavor becomes stronger.
50°C (122°F) Atsukan
“warmed”
Strength of fragrance increases; smell of alcohol becomes strong and sweetness disappears; feeling of stimulation is heightened.

Always store sake away from direct light in a cool place.Sake contains no added preservatives and is best enjoyed shortly after opening.

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