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What's Up with Sake Cups? A Primer for National Sake Day

What's Up with Sake Cups? A Primer for National Sake Day

You've been drinking sake all wrong — try the traditional wooden box, called the masu

October 1 is National Sake Day (Nihonshu no Hi) in Japan. While most people know what sake is, this Japanese beverage still contains some mystery for American drinkers. Often referred to as rice wine, sake is actually brewed — more like a beer. Before unraveling how sake is made, let’s discuss what to drink sake out of.

There are three common styles of cups: the wooden square box, the ceramic cup, and the glass vessel. The delicate glass tokkuri is used for chilled sake. The ceramic cups are designed for hot sake, so will either be very thick or be footed to ensure comfortable handling.

The box (called masu) was originally used as a measuring cup for rice, and is often used at festivals. It’s not recommended that delicate sake be served in these uncoated boxes, as the fragrant hinoki wood can impart or mask flavor. This is why you might see more expensive sake served in a lacquer-coated masu, or even a plastic box. Another note: if you’ve experienced sake being poured to overflow the box, this is not the work of an incompetent server, but a gesture of prosperity and goodwill.

Sake cups are undeniably cute, but why are they so small? One theory is the size is made in opposition to the high alcohol content of the spirit, which can be up to 20 percent. Another theory is more social. When pouring sake for a friend (and tradition states you must always pour for your companion and never for yourself) the sake receiver must protest while the sake bearer must insist. This insistence/resistance is part of the experience, and the tiny cup size allows this interaction to repeat itself over and over.

So, to celebrate National Sake Day, hold out your glass, cup, or box — all the while protesting you’ve had enough — and pour for your companion while insisting they have one more. Kampai.

— Akiko Moorman, The Drink Nation

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There is a World of Holiday Drinks Beyond Eggnog (Really)

I n the United States, Eggnog is synonymous with the holidays. As soon as the Halloween candy is finished, you can find it in just about every grocery store. The drink, which likely dates back at least a couple of centuries, engenders such passionate fans that its ban even instigated a famous riot at West Point. And now, to satisfy holiday revelers there is even a wide variety of Eggnog flavors, including everything from pumpkin spice to caramel, as well as organic, “light” and lactose-free versions.

The U.S, however, is far from the only country that is passionate about cocktails this time of year. Around the world, from Japan to Puerto Rico to Mexico, there are traditional and delicious drinks that are key to holiday celebrations.

Here’s a look at what seven countries mix up for their year-end festivities. Cheers!

The end of the year in Norway, Sweden and across Scandinavia brings plenty of freezing temperatures and excuses to cozy up indoors. So it’s no surprise that big pots of warming Glögg are popular in the weeks before Christmas. At its heart, Glögg (pronounced gloo-gh) is essentially mulled wine, and resembles Germany’s traditional holiday Glühwein.

Glögg is flavored with spices like cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves, as well as citrus rind and sugar, and often incorporates almonds and raisins—though recipes vary from country to country and, likely, from household to household. Most notably, the festive Scandinavian drink is fortified with a spirit—typically caraway- or dill-flavored aquavit, though sometimes vodka or brandy is used instead.

Eggnog’s long history and enthusiastic fan base has inspired drinkers to look around the globe for other creamy and festive concoctions, including New Orleans Milk Punch and Puerto Rico’s coconutty Coquito.

“Coquito is one of those things that marks the start of the holidays,” says Roberto Berdecía, co-owner of acclaimed bars Jungle Bird and La Factoría in San Juan. “If you haven’t tasted Coquito [during] the holidays, you haven’t [really started] your Navidades.”

Berdecía’s version of the Coquito (below) is relatively simple to make and easy to pre-batch in the lead up to a holiday party. He says that the drink can not only be sipped over ice, but is also often served as a shot or as a sidecar to a beer.

“When people get together in a house and they are having fun, someone always pulls out a bottle of Coquito,” he says. “You will not necessarily know everyone, but after a night [of drinking Coquito] you will.”

While many places celebrate the New Year by popping bottles of Champagne, “in Japan, we traditionally drink sake on New Year’s Day with family,” says Kenta Goto, owner of New York’s famed Bar Goto. “The sake is often served in a set of lacquer sake cups and passed around to wish for health.”

This special New Year’s Day sake, he says, is called Otoso. Steeped with herbs and other ingredients, including cinnamon, rhubarb, ginger and peppers for a few hours, it is passed around in a set of small, medium and large sake cups called Sakazuki. This tradition dates back centuries, possibly to Japan’s Heian period, and is said to not only bring health to those who drink the Otoso in the coming year, but historically it’s also been used to ward off evil spirits.

On Christmas, Chileans enjoy a slice of pan de pascua, a sweet fruit cake, with a hearty glass of Cola de Mono (or Colemono for short). Translated, the name of the drink means “monkey’s tail.” While the origin of this concoction is a mystery, what can be confirmed is that it can be served hot or cold and is made of milk, spices (like cinnamon and nutmeg), coffee and liquor (typically aguardiente or pisco). Like any traditional holiday beverage, there are plenty of variations on the basic recipe that call for a range of spices and even eggs.

Enjoyed on islands throughout the Caribbean during the holiday season, sorrel is known for its intense ruby color and pungent flavor. This comes from the drink’s most important ingredient: the sepals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower, which is referred to as “sorrel” across the region. To make Sorrel, spices like allspice berries, cinnamon and ginger are heated and steeped in water for an extended period of time. It’s then sweetened with sugar and fortified with wine or rum—or sometimes both. Sorrel can be served hot or cold and is enjoyed alongside traditional holiday dishes, like curried goat or ham and spiced fruit cake.

Headed to London for the holidays? You likely find the spiced, steamy Yuletide delicacy Wassail, or mulled cider. Dating back to Medieval times, the word “wassail” comes from ves heill, an Old Norse phrase that roughly translates to “be well.” The drink itself supposedly evolved from wassailing, a pagan tradition during which farmers and townspeople would gather in the orchards and drink to the health of their apple cider trees for the coming year’s harvest. This typically would happen on Twelfth Night and, naturally, include a wassail cup and plenty of rambunctious singing and toasting.

Today, “wassail” primarily refers to the rich and warming mulled apple cider enjoyed during the holiday season, but it can also refer to the glassware in which it’s served or, more likely, the toast that accompanies a swig of the drink. It’s made in much the same way as a traditional mulled wine would be (but with apple cider and/or ale), with plenty of baking spices, sugar, citrus and, depending on who’s serving, a bit of sherry or red wine.

“As with many Latin American countries, Mexico makes a bigger fuss for Noche Buena, A.K.A. Christmas Eve, than it does Christmas Day,” says top bartender Erick Castro, co-owner of San Diego bars Raised by Wolves and Polite Provisions. Festivities often last well past midnight, serving as the lead into the holiday, and include a feast of classic dishes like menudo, tamales and empanadas, along with glasses of Ponche Navideño.

While recipes vary depending on region and personal preferences, Castro says Ponche Navideño typically includes piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), baking spices, dried fruit, various winter fruit like tecojotes (“a tasty little fruit that looks like a little apple”), apples and citrus. Also, traditional in Ponche Navideño is aged rum.

“It is surprising for many outsiders that recipes very rarely call for tequila or mezcal, but instead call for aged rum or brandy,” says Castro. “But this makes sense as at most traditional Mexican festivities the tequila is being hoarded for shots and drinking straight.”

Below is an adaptation of Castro’s family recipe for Ponche Navideño—or, he says, an approximation of it as the recipe is a bit different each time: “I have seen everything from dates to pomegranate to grapefruit in it from years past, but it always seems to stick close to this,” he says.

Sake varieties

It sounds simple so far, but as anyone who has bought sake in Japan will know — it gets more complicated! There are a number of different classifications of the beverage, the most basic distinction being between futsuushu (ordinary sake) and tokutei meishoshu (specially designated sake).

Within the “specially designated” classification, there are eight different sub-categories that were specified by the Japanese government in the Liquor Tax Act. These relate to factors such as the addition of brewer’s alcohol and the degree to which the rice it was made with was polished. All sake that falls within these categories can be considered premium sake and of higher quality than the more common futsuu, or ordinary, variety.

It’s the Solemnity of the Annunciation, So Here’s a Waffle Recipe

In Sweden, it’s tradition to eat waffles on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Circle of Georg Flegel (1566-1638), “Stillleben mit Zinntellern, Steinkrug und Waffeln” (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

It doesn’t take a great deal to convince me to indulge in anything sweet. In fact, I learned a long time ago that for the sake of the welfare of all around me, it’s best that I don't give up chocolate, cake or sugar for Lent. Life is too short and I've simply have lost too many friends from becoming cranky while abstaining from sweets.

It's simply not a good time for anyone.

The Church’s liturgical calendar is replete with excuses for eating sweets. It’s traditional to eat almond biscotti on the Feast of St. Francis’ Transitus (Oct. 3), hot-cross buns on St. Clair’s feast day (Aug. 11), sfinge on St. Joseph’s feast Day (March 19), honey cakes on St. Abigail’s feast day (Feb. 11), chocolates on St. Valentine's Day, croissants on Our Lady of the Rosary and anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto (Oct. 7) and cuccia porridge on St. Lucy’s feast day (Dec. 13).

If I weren’t already Catholic, I’d run to the nearest baptismal font just for the chance at the dessert tray.

Each of the above sweet desserts has an extensive history and connection with a particular saint. Eating them is practically an act of piety — or so I keep telling my dietitian and the woman who lets out my trousers. And, in these days when our very religious freedoms are greatly put upon, I want to make sure I do my part in honoring the saints.

Interesting, in Sweden, Christians will eat waffles on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, because the feast’s name, in Swedish, is called Vårfrudagen (“Our Lady’s Day”). The name of the feast is similar to the Swedish pun Våffeldagen (Waffle Day). Thus, the pun has engendered a nationwide act of devotion to the Virgin even as far back as the 17th century. Both Catholics and Lutherans will indulge in gloriously sticky, sweet griddle cakes.

I was introduced to the custom of eating waffles in honor of Mary while on a lecture and performance tour of Sweden. Having returned to the States, and because of my great personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and my desire to always honor our Lady, and for no other reason that I’m willing to admit, I have chosen to consume as many waffles as I can without toppling over on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

For the sake of religiosity, spirituality, tradition and the hyperdulia respect that is due to the Virgin Mary, I offer you my favorite waffle recipe herein:

Feast of the Annunciation Waffles Recipe

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups milk (I prefer buttermilk but you can use regular milk f iyou prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer whole wheat but you can use white if you prefer)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl until fluffy. You may use a hand mixer but your grandmother wouldn't be happy if you did so.
  3. Fold in the flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray or baste with melted butter.
  5. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron.
  6. Cook until golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with syrup, Nutella, butter, peanut butter, apple butter, almond butter, raspberries, blueberries, banana slices, candy sprinkles, ice cream and/or jam.

This article originally appeared April 2, 2016, at the Register.

Angelo Stagnaro Angelo Stagnaro ("Erasmus") performs as a stage magician and mentalist and divides his time between Europe and North America. He is the editor of “Smoke & Mirrors,” the Net's largest e-zine for professional magicians. He’s also the Guildmaster of the Catholic Magicians’ Guild and a professed member of the Secular Franciscans (Third Order Franciscans). Angelo has published articles in most of the major Catholic journals in the United States and Great Britain and had worked as a correspondent for the Catholic News Service having served as principle liaison for the wire service to the United Nations and to the Holy See's Office to the United Nations. Angelo has written six books on mentalism/cold reading including Conspiracy, Something from Nothing, The Other Side, Shibboleth and his upcoming Spur of the Moment. In addition, he’s written an instructional book for catechists which uses stage magic as a teaching tool for children and young adults entitled The Catechist's Magic Kit (Crossroad). His other books include How to Pray the Dominican Way (Paraclete) and The Christian Book of the Dead (Crossroad). His most recent book was released through Tau Publishing and is entitled A Lenten Cookbook for Catholics.

History of the Ryuku Dynasty

Based in Naha, Okinawa, Zuisen Distillery was one of the few distilleries granted permission to produce awamori kosu, the prized alcohol. It’s considered one of the best brands of awamori so taking a tour of Zuisen Distillery is one of the top things to do in Naha.

Given the connection between awamori and royalty, it’s no surprise that Zuisen Distillery is located near Shuri Castle.

Between 1429 and 1879, Shurijo Castle served as the palace of the Ryukyu kingdom, an empire with a powerful maritime trade network stretching southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan. Destroyed during World War II, the rebuilt castle is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Step 4: Find the Right Spot for Fermentation

Temperature is important in this process: too warm or too cold, and you kill off the yeast that you need for fermentation. Many home sake brewers recommend temperatures of 55-65°F, which usually means a cool-ish corner of your garage or basement. Just keep in mind that cooler temps mean that the fermentation process will take longer.

In most houses (unless your place is very warm), room temperature should suffice. You might want to take the precaution of wrapping your rice jar in a towel to make sure it doesn't cool off too precipitously, which might also stop CO2 from forming.


The origin of sake is unclear. The earliest reference to the use of alcohol in Japan is recorded in the Book of Wei in the Records of the Three Kingdoms. This 3rd-century Chinese text speaks of the Japanese drinking and dancing. [5] Alcoholic beverages (Japanese: 酒 , romanized: sake) are mentioned several times in the Kojiki, Japan's first written history, which was compiled in 712. Bamforth (2005) places the probable origin of true sake (which is made from rice, water, and kōji mold ( 麹 , Aspergillus oryzae) in the Nara period (710–794). In the Heian period, sake was used for religious ceremonies, court festivals, and drinking games. [6] [ page needed ] Sake production was a government monopoly for a long time, but in the 10th century, temples and shrines began to brew sake, and they became the main centers of production for the next 500 years. The Tamon-in Diary, written by abbots of Tamon-in (temple) from 1478 to 1618, records many details of brewing in the temple. The diary shows that pasteurization and the process of adding ingredients to the main fermentation mash in three stages were established practices by that time. [ citation needed ] In the 16th century, the technique of distillation was introduced into the Kyushu district from Ryukyu. [5] The brewing of shōchū, called "Imo–sake" started, and was sold at the central market in Kyoto.

In the 18th century, Engelbert Kaempfer [7] and Isaac Titsingh [8] published accounts identifying sake as a popular alcoholic beverage in Japan but Titsingh was the first to try to explain and describe the process of sake brewing. The work of both writers was widely disseminated throughout Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. [9]

During the Meiji Restoration, laws were written that allowed anybody with the money and know-how to construct and operate their own sake breweries. Around 30,000 breweries sprang up around the country within a year. As time passed, the government levied increasing taxes on the sake industry and the number of breweries dwindled to 8,000. [ citation needed ]

Most of the breweries that grew and survived this period were established by wealthy landowners. Landowners who grew rice crops would have surplus rice at the end of the season. Rather than letting these leftovers go to waste, they shipped it to their breweries. The most successful of these family breweries still operate today. [ citation needed ]

During the 20th century, sake-brewing technology advanced. The government opened the sake-brewing research institute in 1904, and in 1907 the first government-run sake-tasting competition was held. Yeast strains specifically selected for their brewing properties were isolated and enamel-coated steel tanks arrived. The government started hailing the use of enamel tanks as easy to clean, lasting forever, and being devoid of bacterial problems. (The government considered wooden barrels to be unhygienic because of the potential bacteria living in the wood.) Although these things are true, the government also wanted more tax money from breweries, as using wooden barrels means that a significant amount of sake is lost to evaporation (approximately 3%), which could have otherwise been taxed. This was the end of the wooden-barrel age of sake and the use of wooden barrels in brewing was completely eliminated. [ citation needed ]

In Japan, sake has long been taxed by the national government. In 1898, this tax brought in about ¥5 million out of a total of about ¥120 million, about 4.6% of the government's total direct tax income. [10]

During the Russo-Japanese War in 1904–1905, the government banned the home brewing of sake. At the time, sake comprised 30% of Japan's tax revenue. Since home-brewed sake is tax-free, the logic was that by banning the home brewing of sake, sales would increase, and more tax revenue would be collected. This was the end of home-brewed sake, and the law remains in effect today even though sake sales now contribute only 2% of government income. [ citation needed ]

When World War II brought rice shortages, the sake-brewing industry was hampered as the government discouraged the use of rice for brewing. As early as the late 17th century, it had been discovered that small amounts of alcohol could be added to sake before pressing to extract aromas and flavors from the rice solids. During the war, pure alcohol and glucose were added to small quantities of rice mash, increasing the yield by as much as four times. 75% of today's sake is made using this technique. There were a few breweries producing "sake" that contained no rice at all. The quality of sake during this time varied greatly. [ citation needed ]

Postwar, breweries slowly recovered, and the quality of sake gradually increased. New players on the scene—beer, wine, and spirits—became popular in Japan, and in the 1960s beer consumption surpassed sake for the first time. Sake consumption continued to decrease while the quality of sake steadily improved.

Today, sake has become a world beverage with a few breweries in China, Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Australia. [11] More breweries are also turning to older methods of production.

While the rest of the world may be drinking more sake and the quality of sake has been increasing, sake production in Japan has been declining since the mid-1970s. [12] The number of sake breweries is also declining. While there were 3,229 breweries nationwide in fiscal 1975, the number had fallen to 1,845 in 2007. [13]

Oldest sake brewery Edit

The oldest known sake brewery is from the 15th century near an area that was owned by Tenryū-ji, in Ukyō-ku, Kyoto. Unrefined sake was squeezed out at the brewery and there are about 180 holes (60 cm wide, 20 cm deep) for holding storage jars. A hollow (1.8 meter wide, 1 meter deep) for a pot to collect drops of pressed sake and 14th-century Bizen ware jars were also found. It is estimated to be utilized until the Onin War (1467–1477). Sake was brewed at Tenryū-ji during the Muromachi Period (1336–1573). [14]

Rice Edit

The rice used for brewing sake is called saka mai 酒米 (さかまい) (sake rice), or officially shuzō kōtekimai 酒造好適米 (しゅぞうこうてきまい) (sake-brewing suitable rice). There are at least 80 types of sake rice in Japan. Among these, Yamadanishiki, Gohyakumangoku, Miyamanishiki and Omachi rice are popular. The grain is larger, stronger (if a grain is small or weak, it will break in the process of polishing), and contains less protein and lipid than ordinary table rice. Sake rice is used only for making sake, because some say it is unpalatable for eating.

Premium sake is mostly made from sake rice however non-premium sake is mostly made from table rice. According to the Japan Sake and Sochu Makers Association, premium sake makes up 25% of total sake production and non-premium sake (futsushu) makes up 75% of sake production. In 2008 a total of 180,000 tons of polished rice were used in sake brewing, of which sake rice accounted for 44,000 tons (24%) and table rice accounted for 136,000 tons(76%). [15]

Sake rice is usually polished to a much higher degree than rice that is used as food. The reason for polishing is a result of the composition and structure of the rice grain itself. The core of the rice grain is rich in starch, while the outer layers of the grain contain higher concentrations of fats, vitamins and proteins. Since higher concentration of fat and protein in the sake would lead to off-flavors and contribute rough elements to the sake, the outer layers of the sake rice grain is milled away in a polishing process, leaving only the starchy part of the grain (some sake brewers remove over 60% of the rice grain in the polishing process). That desirable pocket of starch in the center of the grain is called the shinpaku (心白, しんぱく). It usually takes two to three days to polish rice down to less than half its original size. The rice powder by-product of polishing is often used for making rice crackers, or Japanese sweets (i.e. Dango), and other food stuffs.

If the sake is made with rice that has a higher percentage of its husk and outer portion of the core milled off, then more rice will be required to make that particular sake, and it will take longer to produce. Thus, sake made with rice that has been highly milled is usually more expensive than a sake that has been made with less-polished rice. This does not always mean that sake made with highly-milled rice is of better quality than sake made by rice that has been milled less.

Rice polishing ratio, called Seimai-buai 精米歩合 (せいまいぶあい) (see Glossary of sake terms) measures the degree of rice polishing. For example, rice polishing ratio of 60% means that the 60% of the original rice grain remains and the 40% has been polished away.

Water Edit

Water is involved in almost every major process of sake brewing, from washing the rice to dilution of the final product before bottling. The mineral content of the water can be important in the final product. Iron will bond with an amino acid produced by the kōji to produce off flavors and a yellowish color. Manganese, when exposed to ultraviolet light, will also contribute to discoloration. Conversely potassium, magnesium, and phosphoric acid serve as nutrients for yeast during fermentation and are considered desirable. [16] The yeast will use those nutrients to work faster and multiply resulting in more sugar being converted into alcohol. While soft water will typically yield sweeter sake, hard water with a higher nutrient content is known for producing drier-style sake.

The first region known for having great water was the Nada-Gogō in Hyōgo Prefecture. A particular water source called "Miyamizu" was found to produce high quality sake and attracted many producers to the region. Today Hyōgo has the most sake brewers of any prefecture. [16]

Typically breweries obtain water from wells, though surface water can be used. Breweries may use tap water and filter and adjust components. [16]

Kōji-kin Edit

Kōji-kin (Aspergillus oryzae) spores are another important component of sake. Kōji-kin is an enzyme-secreting fungus. [17] In Japan, kōji-kin is used to make various fermented foods, including miso (a paste made from soybeans) and shoyu (soy sauce). [17] It is also used to make alcoholic beverages, notably sake. [17] During sake brewing, spores of kōji-kin are scattered over steamed rice to produce kōji (rice in which kōji-kin spores are cultivated). [18] Under warm and moist conditions, the kōji-kin spores germinate and release enzymes called amylases that convert the rice starches into glucose. This process of starch conversion into simpler sugars (e.g. glucose or maltose) is called saccharification. Yeast then turns this glucose into alcohol via fermentation. [18] Saccharification also occurs in beer brewing, where malting is used to convert starches from barley into maltose. [18] However, whereas fermentation occurs after saccharification in beer brewing, saccharification (via kōji-kin) and fermentation (via yeast) occur simultaneously in sake brewing (see "Fermentation" below). [18]

As kōji-kin is a microorganism used to manufacture food, its safety profile with respect to humans and the environment in sake brewing and other food-making processes must be considered. Various health authorities, including Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consider kōji-kin (A. oryzae) generally safe for use in food fermentation, including sake brewing. [17] When assessing its safety, it is important to note that A. oryzae lacks the ability to produce toxins, unlike the closely related Aspergillus flavus. [17] To date, there have been several reported cases of animals (e.g. parrots, a horse) being infected with A. oryzae. [19] In these cases the animals infected with A. oryzae were already weakened due to predisposing conditions such as recent injury, illness or stress, hence were susceptible to infections in general. [19] Aside from these cases, there is no evidence to indicate A. oryzae is a harmful pathogen to either plants or animals in the scientific literature. [19] Therefore, Health Canada considers A. oryzae "unlikely to be a serious hazard to livestock or to other organisms", including "healthy or debilitated humans". [19] Given its safety record in the scientific literature and extensive history of safe use (spanning several hundred years) in the Japanese food industry, the FDA and World Health Organization (WHO) also support the safety of A. oryzae for use in the production of foods like sake. [17] In the US, the FDA classifies A.oryzae as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) organism. [17]

Fermentation Edit

Sake fermentation is a 3-step process called sandan shikomi. [20] The first step, called hatsuzoe, involves steamed rice, water, and kōji-kin being added to the yeast starter called shubo: a mixture of steamed rice, water, kōji, and yeast. [20] This mixture becomes known as the moromi (the main mash during sake fermentation). [20] The high yeast content of the shubo promotes the fermentation of the moromi. [20]

On the second day, the mixture is allowed to stand for a day to allow the yeast to multiply. [20]

The second step (the third day of the process), called nakazoe, involves the addition of a second batch of kōji, steamed rice, and water to the mixture. [20] On the fourth day of the fermentation, the third step of the process, called tomezoe, takes place. [20] Here, the third and final batch of kōji, steamed rice, and water is added to the mixture to complete the 3-step process. [20]

The fermentation process of sake is a multiple parallel fermentation, which is unique to sake. [20] Multiple parallel fermentation is the conversion of starch into glucose followed by immediate conversion into alcohol. [21] This process distinguishes sake from other liquors like beer because it occurs in a single vat, whereas with beer, for instance, starch to glucose conversion and glucose to alcohol conversion occur in separate vats. [21] The breakdown of starch into glucose is caused by the kōji-kin fungus, while the conversion of glucose into alcohol is caused by yeast. [21] Due to the yeast being available as soon as the glucose is produced, the conversion of glucose to alcohol is very efficient in sake brewing. [21] This results in sake having a generally higher alcohol content than other types of liquor. [21]

After the fermentation process is complete, the fermented moromi is pressed to remove the sake lees and then pasteurized and filtered for color. [20] The sake is then stored in bottles under cold conditions (see "Maturation" below). [20]

The entire process of making sake can range from 60–90 days (2–3 months), while the fermentation alone can take two weeks. [22]

Maturation Edit

Like other brewed beverages, sake tends to benefit from a period of storage. Nine to twelve months are required for sake to mature. Maturation is caused by physical and chemical factors such as oxygen supply, the broad application of external heat, nitrogen oxides, aldehydes and amino acids, among other unknown factors. [23]

Tōji Edit

Tōji ( 杜氏 ) is the job title of the sake brewer, named after Du Kang. It is a highly respected job in the Japanese society, with tōji being regarded like musicians or painters. The title of tōji was historically passed from father to son. Today new tōji are either veteran brewery workers or are trained at universities. While modern breweries with cooling tanks operate year-round, most old-fashioned sake breweries are seasonal, operating only in the cool winter months. During the summer and fall most tōji work elsewhere, commonly on farms, only periodically returning to the brewery to supervise storage conditions or bottling operations. [24] [ unreliable source? ]

Special-designation sake Edit

There are two basic types of sake: Futsū-shu ( 普通酒 , ordinary sake) and Tokutei meishō-shu ( 特定名称酒 , special-designation sake) . Futsū-shu is the equivalent of table wine and accounts for the majority of sake produced. Tokutei meishō-shu refers to premium sake distinguished by the degree to which the rice has been polished and the added percentage of brewer's alcohol or the absence of such additives. There are eight varieties of special-designation sake. [25]

The four main grades of sake are junmai, honjozo, ginjo and daiginjo. Generally junmai ( 純米 ) is a term used for sake that is made of pure rice wine without any additional alcohol. [26] The listing below has the highest quality at the top:

Special Designation Ingredients Rice Polishing Ratio (percent rice remaining) Percentage of Kōji rice
Junmai Daiginjō-shu ( 純米大吟醸酒 , Pure rice, Very Special brew) Rice, Kōji rice 50% or less At least 15%
Daiginjō-shu ( 大吟醸酒 , Very Special brew) Rice, Kōji rice, Distilled alcohol [note 1] 50% or less At least 15%
Junmai Ginjō-shu ( 純米吟醸酒 , Pure rice, Special brew) Rice, Kōji rice 60% or less At least 15%
Ginjō-shu ( 吟醸酒 , Special brew) Rice, Kōji rice, Distilled alcohol [note 1] 60% or less At least 15%
Tokubetsu Junmai-shu ( 特別純米酒 , Special Pure rice) Rice, Kōji rice 60% or less, or produced by special brewing method At least 15%
Tokubetsu Honjōzō-shu ( 特別本醸造酒 , Special Genuine brew) Rice, Kōji rice, Distilled alcohol [note 1] 70% or less, or produced by special brewing method At least 15%
Junmai-shu ( 純米酒 , Pure rice) Rice, Kōji rice Regulations do not stipulate a rice polishing ratio [27] At least 15%
Honjōzō-shu ( 本醸造酒 , Genuine brew) Rice, Kōji rice, Distilled alcohol [note 1] 70% or less At least 15%

  1. ^ abcd The weight of added alcohol must be below 10% of the weight of the rice (after polishing) used in the brewing process.

Ways to make the starter mash Edit

  • Kimoto ( 生酛 ) is the traditional orthodox method for preparing the starter mash, which includes the laborious process of using poles to mix it into a paste, known as yama-oroshi. This method was the standard for 300 years, but it is rare today.
  • Yamahai ( 山廃 ) is a simplified version of the kimoto method, introduced in the early 1900s. Yamahai skips the step of making a paste out of the starter mash. That step of the kimoto method is known as yama-oroshi, and the full name for yamahai is "yama-oroshi haishi" ( 山卸廃止 ), meaning "discontinuation of yama-oroshi". While the yamahai method was originally developed to speed production time compared to the kimoto method, it is slower than the modern method and is now used only in specialty brews for the earthy flavors it produces.
  • Sokujō ( 速醸 ), "quick fermentation", is the modern method of preparing the starter mash. Lactic acid, produced naturally in the two slower traditional methods, is added to the starter to inhibit unwanted bacteria. Sokujō sake tends to have a lighter flavor than kimoto or yamahai.

Different handling after fermentation Edit

  • Namazake ( 生酒 ) is sake that has not been pasteurized. It requires refrigerated storage and has a shorter shelf-life than pasteurized sake.
  • Genshu ( 原酒 ) is undiluted sake. Most sake is diluted with water after brewing to lower the alcohol content from 18–20% down to 14–16%, but genshu is not.
  • Muroka ( 無濾過 ) means unfiltered. It refers to sake that has not been carbon filtered, but which has been pressed and separated from the lees, and thus is clear, not cloudy. Carbon filtration can remove desirable flavors and odors as well as bad ones, thus muroka sake has stronger flavors than filtered varieties.
  • Nigorizake ( 濁り酒 ) is cloudy sake. The sake is passed through a loose mesh to separate it from the mash. It is not filtered thereafter and there is much rice sediment in the bottle. Before serving, the bottle is shaken to mix the sediment and turn the sake white or cloudy.
  • Seishu ( 清酒 ), "clear/clean sake", is the Japanese legal definition of sake and refers to sake in which the solids have been strained out, leaving clear liquid. Thus nigorizake and doburoku (see below) are not seishu and therefore are not actually sake under Japanese law. Nigorizake can receive the seishu status by being strained clear and having the lees put back in afterward.
  • Koshu ( 古酒 ) is "aged sake". Most sake does not age well, but this specially made type can age for decades, turning yellow and acquiring a honeyed flavor.
  • Taruzake ( 樽酒 ) is sake aged in wooden barrels or bottled in wooden casks. The wood used is Cryptomeria ( 杉 , sugi), which is also known as Japanese cedar. Sake casks are often tapped ceremonially for the opening of buildings, businesses, parties, etc. Because the wood imparts a strong flavor, premium sake is rarely used for this type.
  • Shiboritate ( 搾立て ), "freshly pressed", refers to sake that has been shipped without the traditional six-month aging/maturation period. The result is usually a more acidic, "greener" sake.
  • Fukurozuri ( 袋吊り ) is a method of separating sake from the lees without external pressure by hanging the mash in bags and allowing the liquid to drip out under its own weight. Sake produced this way is sometimes called shizukuzake ( 雫酒 ), meaning "drip sake".
  • Tobingakoi ( 斗瓶囲い ) is sake pressed into 18-liter (4.0 imp gal 4.8 U.S. gal) bottles ("tobin") with the brewer selecting the best sake of the batch for shipping.

Others Edit

  • Amazake ( 甘酒 ) is a traditional sweet, low-alcoholic Japanese drink made from fermented rice.
  • Doburoku ( 濁酒 ) is the classic home-brew style of sake (although home brewing is illegal in Japan). It is created by simply adding kōji mold to steamed rice and water and letting the mixture ferment. The resulting sake is somewhat like a chunkier version of nigorizake.
  • Jizake ( 地酒 ) is locally brewed sake, the equivalent of microbrewing beer.
  • Kuroshu ( 黒酒 ) is sake made from unpolished rice (i.e., brown rice), and is more like huangjiu.
  • Teiseihaku-shu ( 低精白酒 ) is sake with a deliberately high rice-polishing ratio. It is generally held that the lower the rice polishing ratio (the percent weight after polishing), the better the potential of the sake. Circa 2005, teiseihaku-shu has been produced as a specialty sake made with high rice-polishing ratios, usually around 80%, to produce sake with the characteristic flavor of rice itself.

Some other terms commonly used in connection with sake:

  • Nihonshu-do ( 日本酒度 ), also called the Sake Meter Value, or SMV
  • Seimai-buai ( 精米歩合 ) is the rice polishing ratio (or milling rate), the percentage of weight remaining after polishing. Generally, the lower the number, the higher the sake's complexity. A lower percentage usually results in a fruitier and more complex sake, whereas a higher percentage will taste more like rice.
  • Kasu ( 粕 ) are pressed sake lees, the solids left after pressing and filtering. These are used for making pickles, livestock feed, and shōchū, and as an ingredient in dishes like kasu soup.

The label on a bottle of sake gives a rough indication of its taste. Terms found on the label may include nihonshu-do ( 日本酒度 ), san-do ( 酸度 ), and aminosan-do ( アミノ酸度 ). [28] [ failed verification ]

Nihonshu-do ( 日本酒度 ) or Sake Meter Value (SMV) is calculated from the specific gravity of the sake and indicates the sugar and alcohol content of the sake on an arbitrary scale. Typical values are between −3 (sweet) and +10 (dry), equivalent to specific gravities ranging between 1.007 and 0.998, though the maximum range of Nihonshu-do can go much beyond that. The Nihonshu-do must be considered together with San-do to determine the overall perception of dryness-sweetness, richness-lightness characteristics of a sake (for example, a higher level of acidity can make a sweet sake taste drier than it actually is). [29] [30]

San-do ( 酸度 ) indicates the concentration of acid, which is determined by titration with sodium hydroxide solution. This number is equal to the milliliters of titrant required to neutralize the acid in 10 ml (0.35 imp fl oz 0.34 US fl oz) of sake.

Aminosan-do ( アミノ酸度 ) indicates a taste of umami or savoriness. As the proportion of amino acids rises, the sake tastes more savory. This number is determined by titration of the sake with a mixture of sodium hydroxide solution and formaldehyde, and is equal to the milliliters of titrant required to neutralize the amino acids in 10 ml of sake.

Sake can have many flavor notes, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, and spices. Many types of sake have notes of apple from ethyl caproate, and banana from isoamyl acetate, particularly ginjōshu ( 吟醸酒 ) . [ citation needed ]

In Japan, sake is served chilled (reishu 冷酒 ), at room temperature (jōon 常温 ), or heated (atsukan 熱燗 ), depending on the preference of the drinker, the characteristics of the sake, and the season. Typically, hot sake is a winter drink, and high-grade sake is not usually drunk hot, because the flavors and aromas may be lost. Most lower-quality sake is served hot because that is the traditional way and it often tastes better that way, not so that flaws are covered up. There are gradations of temperature both for chilling and heating, about every 5 °C (9.0 °F), with hot sake generally served around 50 °C (122 °F), and chilled sake around 10 °C (50 °F), like white wine. Hot sake that has cooled (kanzamashi 燗冷まし ) may be reheated.

Sake is traditionally drunk from small cups called choko or o-choko ( お猪口 ) and poured into the choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri. This is very common for hot sake, where the flask is heated in hot water and the small cups ensure that the sake does not get cold in the cup, but may also be used for chilled sake. Traditionally one does not pour one's own drink, which is known as tejaku ( 手酌 ), but instead members of a party pour for each other, which is known as shaku ( 酌 ). This has relaxed in recent years, but is generally observed on more formal occasions, such as business meals, and is still often observed for the first drink.

Another traditional cup is the masu, a box usually made of hinoki or sugi, which was originally used for measuring rice. The masu holds exactly one , 180.4 ml (6.35 imp fl oz 6.10 US fl oz), so the sake is served by filling the masu to the brim this is done for chilled or room temperature sake. In some Japanese restaurants, as a show of generosity, the server may put a glass inside the masu or put the masu on a saucer and pour until sake overflows and fills both containers.

Sake is traditionally served in units of , and this is still common, but other sizes are sometimes also available.

Saucer-like cups called sakazuki are also used, most commonly at weddings and other ceremonial occasions, such as the start of the year or at the beginning of a kaiseki meal. In cheap bars, sake is often served room temperature in glass tumblers and called koppu-zake ( コップ酒 ). In more modern restaurants wine glasses are also used, and recently footed glasses made specifically for premium sake have also come into use.

Traditionally sake is heated immediately before serving, but today restaurants may buy sake in boxes which can be heated in a specialized hot sake dispenser, thus allowing hot sake to be served immediately, though this is detrimental to the flavor. There are also a variety of devices for heating sake and keeping it warm, beyond the traditional tokkuri.

Aside from being served straight, sake can be used as a mixer for cocktails, such as tamagozake, saketinis or nogasake. [31] Outside of Japan, the sake bomb, the origins of which are unclear, [32] has become a popular drink in bars and Asia-themed karaoke clubs.

The Japanese Sake Association encourages people to drink chaser water for their health, and the water is called Yawaragi-mizu. [33]

Traditionally sake was brewed only in the winter. While it can now be brewed year-round, there is still seasonality associated with sake, particularly artisanal ones. The most visible symbol of this is the sugitama ( 杉玉 ), a globe of cedar leaves traditionally hung outside a brewery when the new sake is brewed. The leaves start green, but turn brown over time, reflecting the maturation of the sake. These are now hung outside many restaurants serving sake. The new year's sake is called shinshu 新酒 ("new sake"), and when initially released in late winter or early spring, many brewers have a celebration, known as kurabiraki 蔵開き (warehouse opening). Traditionally sake was best transported in the cool spring, to avoid spoilage in the summer heat, with a secondary transport in autumn, once the weather had cooled, known as hiyaoroshi 冷卸し ("cold wholesale distribution")—this autumn sake has matured over the summer.

There is not traditionally a notion of vintage of sake—it is generally drunk within the year, and if aged, it does not vary significantly from year to year. Today, with influence from wine vintages, some breweries label sake intended for aging with a vintage, but this is otherwise rare.

Sake is sold in volume units divisible by 180 ml (6.3 imp fl oz 6.1 US fl oz) (one ), the traditional Japanese unit for cup size. [34] Sake is traditionally sold by the gō-sized cup, or in a 1.8 l (63 imp fl oz 61 US fl oz) (one shō or ten ) sized flask (called an isshōbin, or "one shō-measure bottle"). Today sake is also often sold in 720 ml (25 imp fl oz 24 US fl oz) bottles, which are divisible into four gō. Note that this is almost the same as the 750 ml (26 imp fl oz 25 US fl oz) standard for wine bottles, which is divisible into 4 quarter bottles (187ml). Particularly in convenience stores, sake (generally of cheap quaity) may be sold in a small 360 ml (13 imp fl oz 12 US fl oz) bottle or a single serving 180 ml (6.3 imp fl oz 6.1 US fl oz) (one gō) glass with a pull-off top ( カップ酒 kappu-zake).

In general, it is best to keep sake refrigerated in a cool or dark room, as prolonged exposure to heat or direct light will lead to spoilage. Sake stored at relatively high temperature can lead to formation of dicetopiperazine, a cyclo (Pro-Leu) that makes it bitter as it ages [35] Sake has high microbiological stability due to its high content of ethanol, but incidences of spoilage have occurred. One of the microorganisms implicated in this spoilage is lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that has grown tolerant to ethanol and is referred to as hiochi-bacteria. [36] Sake stored at room temperature is best consumed within a few months after purchase. [ citation needed ]

After opening a bottle of sake, it is best consumed within two or three hours. [ citation needed ] It is possible to store sake in the refrigerator, but it is recommended to consume it within two days. When premium sake is opened it begins to oxidize, which affects the taste. If the sake is kept in the refrigerator more than three days, it will lose its "best" flavor. This does not mean it should be disposed of if not consumed. Generally, sake can keep very well and taste good after weeks in the refrigerator. How long a sake will remain drinkable depends on the quality of the product, and whether it is sealed with a vacuum top to decrease oxidation.

Sake is often consumed as part of Shinto purification rituals. Sake served to gods as offerings prior to drinking are called o-miki ( 御神酒 ) or miki ( 神酒 ) .

In a ceremony called kagami biraki, wooden casks of sake are opened with mallets during Shinto festivals, weddings, store openings, sports and election victories, and other celebrations. This sake, called iwai-zake ("celebration sake"), is served freely to all to spread good fortune.

At the New Year many Japanese people drink a special sake called toso. Toso is a sort of iwai-zake made by soaking tososan, a Chinese powdered medicine, overnight in sake. Even children sip a portion. In some regions, the first sips of toso are taken in order of age, from the youngest to the eldest.

A Shochikubai Komodaru (straw mat cask) of sake before the kagami biraki

A Food & Wine Retreat with ALDI

Let’s have some cake and coffee today and talk ALDI. My new favorite store. In fact, the coffee cake you see below is made from their ALDI exclusive brand flour, sugar and butter. It’s not only delicious, but incredibly moist and tender.

My first exposure to ALDI was when they invited me for a two-day food and wine retreat, I couldn’t turn it down.

Who cares if I had to snake my way through two and half hours of traffic. At the end, there was a tour of the Bridlewood Winery in Santa Ynez and a dinner menu crafted by Bon Appétit’s executive chef, Mary Nolan.

Not a bad way to start a retreat, right? I had no complaints. In fact, I’m always amazed and thankful that I do what I love and I am able to attend events from brands that I love, that also include great food, wine and good company.

Take a look at that menu. All that food for less than $15 a person. The price is shocking enough, right? But if you were there, you would have clearly been blown away with the quality of the meats, cheese and produce.

Along with that, it was great to get a behind-the-scenes peek with a Q&A from ALDI marketing director, Liz Ruggles. She shared the history and vision of ALDI going forward. Their no-frills approach has allowed them to offer premium products at a price that is up to 50% less than what you see in most larger national chains. Aside from that, ALDI is now also offering an extensive line of organic foods under their SimplyNature line and gluten-free products under their liveGfree line. This means I don’t have to go to several stores to get what I need. I’m always a geek for behind-the-scenes information, so I loved hearing everything Liz had to share.

That was followed by a blind taste test of ALDI brands vs. name brands in Bridlewood’s Barrel Room. The idea was to choose which sample belonged to whom. But like the non-rule follower that I am, I did my own survey based on which one I preferred. Because lower prices or not, I’m always going to choose based on taste and quality. With those parameters, guess what? ALDI won out 90% of the time. Ah-mazing, especially, since their prices are up to 50% lower than the leading national brand.

Beyond doing the food sampling, there was also a wine tasting with Leslee Miller. I’m shocked to find that ALDI is able to pair quality wine with the prices they have. In fact you can buy a cabernet sauvignon from the Rutherford region for under $30. The other thing I love about their wines is the labels lists the notes. This makes it easy to pair the perfect wine for the perfect dinner.

It’s crazy to me that one store has put this much thought and testing into each product to ensure that quality and price are equally paramount. Nothing is sacrificed for the sake of pricing. If you have an ALDI near you, then you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who are waiting for one to open near you—like I was—get ready, because they are carefully and methodically expanding.

I cannot wait to share part two of this series because I’ll be attending an ALDI grand opening and creating a recipe to highlight the quality of their food.

Recipe: Italian Sausages with Lentils

3-4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)

about 2 3/4 cups (18 ounces) dried Puy lentils

1 fat clove garlic, squished with the flat side of a knife, and skin removed

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine

flat-leaf parsley for sprinkling

To cook the lentils, put 2-3 tablespoons of the oil into a good-sized saucepan (and one that has a lid that fits) on the heat and when it's warm add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt (which helps prevent its browning) and cook over a low to medium heat till soft (about 5 minutes). Add the lentils, stir well and then cover generously with cold water.

Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer gently for half an hour or so until cooked and most, if not all, the liquid's absorbed. I don't add salt at this stage since the sauce provided by the sausages later (and which will be poured over the lentils) will be pretty salty itself. So, wait and taste. And remember, you can of course cook the lentils in advance.

Anyway, when either the lentils are nearly ready or you're about to reheat them, put a heavy-based frying pan on the burner, cover with a film of oil and add the bruised garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add and brown the sausages. When the sausages are brown on both sides — which won't take more that 5 minutes or so — throw in the wine and water and let bubble up. Cover the pan, either with a lid or aluminum foil, and cook for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, mash the now-soft garlic into the sauce and taste for seasoning, adding a little more water if it's too strong.

Remove the lentils to a shallowish bowl or dish (I evacuate the sausages from their cooking pan, plonk the lentils in, then proceed) then cover with the sausages and their garlicky, winey gravy. Sprinkle over some flat-leaf parsley.

Excerpted from NIGELLA BITES by Nigella Lawson. Copyright (c) 2002 Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Francesca Yorke. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.

All About Japanese Sake: the National Drink of Japan

Since Japanese sake is made from rice, it’s hard to imagine what it might taste like. It even sounds a bit strange, but sake actually has a smooth, sweet taste that is even a bit creamy. It is a fermented alcoholic beverage, with typically about 15% ABV (which is comparable to most wine), but it doesn’t taste “hot” or have a sharp alcohol taste. There are many different types of sake, as you’ll learn in the next section, so the nuances of the sake can vary quite a bit. They also range from sweet to dry. If you’ve had sake in a Japanese restaurant in the United States, chances are it was served hot. This was often done to mask the flavor of low-quality sake. But serving it hot can ruin the flavor profile, which is never a good thing. As long as you’re drinking high-quality, premium sake, it should be served slightly chilled. Sake comes in many different varieties and styles, so it’s important to try a few to determine what you like. One sake doesn’t speak for them all, so trying just one may lead you to think you don’t like sake, while just trying a different type can change your perspective.

The Types of Sake

The basic types of sake are determined mostly by the amount of polishing the rice undergoes. The more polished the rice, the more smooth and clean the taste of the sake. So more premium sakes are made with a rice that has been highly polished. The percentage given below refers to the amount of rice that is left after polishing – so 70% means that 70% of the rice remains. Junmai – Junmai sakes are made with rice that does not require milling or polishing, but is usually polished up to 70%. Junmai also means that the sake is pure rice, with no added distilled alcohol. If the word Junmai is added to another level of sake, it means there is no added alcohol. The flavor is usually robust. Honjozo – Honjozo is very similar to Junmai in that the rice has to be polished to 70%, but it contains a small amount of distilled brewers alcohol. Again, the flavor is fairly full and rich, but perhaps more refined than a Junmai. Ginjo – Ginjo sake must use rice that is polished to 60%. You can have a Ginjo or a Junmai-Ginjo. As the ginjo is a more premium sake, you can expect the flavors to become more smooth and fragrant, because more expertise and high-quality ingredients are going into its making. Daiginjo – A Daiginjo is the most premium level of sake, thus has more nuances, flavor, aroma and smoothness. The rice must be polished to 50%. You can find a Junmai-Daiginjo as well, if you want to see what the flavor is like without the distilled alcohol added. You can really see and taste the skill of the sake maker in a bottle of Daijinjo, which can be quite expensive. ⇒ Become a sake expert with The Sake Handbook.

The History of Sake

Interestingly, sake’s origin can be traced back to China, as long ago as 4,000 BC. Though, Japan was the country that began to mass produce this simple spirit. The initial process required the milling of rice kernels, cooked in clean water and then formed into a mash. Centuries ago, the whole village would engage in chewing the rice along with nuts, which they would then spit into a community tub to start the process of fermentation. This process ended once they learned about using yeast and a mold enzyme called koji for the fermentation process. Initially, sake was just produced by individual families or villages for use at home or in celebrations. In the Shinto religion, it was an offering to the Gods as well as something the bride and groom during a wedding ceremony must consume. Many of the traditional uses for sake in this religion are still upheld today. By the 1300s, the mass production of sake made it the most important beverage in the country. Production processes began to improve over time and eventually breweries dotted the horizon of the nation. Rumor even has it that an angry employee tried to destroy the batches of sake by adding ashes to it, however those ashes actually refined it further, making it even better. Automation during the Industrial Revolution completely reshaped the process of making sake, allowing it to become even more widespread.

How Sake is Made

How to Drink Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink that is made from fermented rice. It has many subtleties and nuances that can be enjoyed when it is served and drank in the proper way. Sake can be served at room temperature, warm, hot or chilled. This often depends on the quality of the sake, the season, and the drinker’s preference. It is served from a (usually porcelain) decanter into small cups. See our guide on finding the perfect sake set. Since sake can be served warm or hot, the decanter is made to withstand heat, so to warm your sake you can place it in a pot of hot or boiling water to bring it up to the desired temperature – typically around 105 degrees F. When you drink the sake, you should raise the glass to your mouth, smell the aroma, take a small sip and allow the liquid to linger on your tongue for a moment before swallowing, to taste all the flavors. Sake is not meant to be gulped. It should be savored in small sips. When drinking sake with others, you should never refill your own glass, and should remember to fill your companions glasses, as well. “Kanpai” is the word for cheers in Japanese. (Learn how to say cheers in many other languages here). We have you’ve learned a ton about Japanese sake in this guide and have decided to go out and try some new types and brands. Also check out our Mezcal guide. (Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link from which we receive a small commission.)

Laura is the founder and editor of the travel blogs Savored Sips and Savored Journeys. She is dedicated to sharing the best information about drinks found around the world.

Watch the video: How to Drink Sake - What Kind of Cup is the Best? (December 2021).