As the weather cools down and you bring out your winter coats, consider additional ways to bring some warmth into your life – perhaps, you might start heating up your Saké. Some people misconceive Saké serving temperature, associating inferior quality with hotter temperatures, but that’s simply not true!
The truth is premium Saké can taste delicious at many different serving temperatures. In fact, there are more than 10 different serving temperatures observed in Japan, ranging from 23°F to 133°F. Warm or room temperature Saké highlights an element that differentiates Saké from other beverages – Umami! As Saké increases in temperature, the rich, savory qualities are drawn out, letting the umami shine.
There are a few other reasons to turn up the heat on your Saké:
- As we get deeper into the winter, warm Saké can provide comfort by helping to mitigate the effects of the bitter cold.
- Playing with temperature opens up a new world of possibilities. Try pairing warm Saké with warm food, adding an interesting dynamic to your meal or you can create different experiences with the same bottle by serving at different temperatures.
Below we’ve outlined the five common temperatures and the Sakés that work best for them:
|Hot Sake||115-125°F||Junmai, Honjozo, Futsu-shu(table sake)|
|Body Temperature||95-105°F||Richer Saké that is earthier or more umami-driven|
|Room Temperature||65-75°F||Richer Saké that is earthier or more umami driven|
|Cellar Temperature||50-60°F||All Saké (especially fruity and aromatic ones)|
|Fridge Temperature||40-45°F||All Saké (especially fruity and aromatic ones)|
How to Heat Up Your Saké
There are three main methods to heating up your Saké, depending on whether you’re a restaurant serving Saké in high volume, or if you’re experimenting with it at home.
- Hot Saké Machine: These are a staple for higher volume service. Although the machines can be costly, through volume you can definitely increase profits. Higher quality machines have more functionality, allowing you to adjust temperature.
- Hot water bath: This is the preferred way to serve premium Saké. Although this process is more time-consuming than a microwave, it’s a gentler process and gives you more control over the product.
- Microwave: This is the most time-effective method, and not a bad option – just be careful not to overheat or create hot pockets. Put your Saké in a ceramic carafe and experiment with timing – every microwave is different, so start heating in short increments!
If you’re ready to start warming up your Saké, here are a few fantastic options from our portfolio to experiment with.
Tanrei “Clean & Dry” Junmai (JFC)
Specially brewed by Ozeki for Young’s Market Company, Tan Rei is clean, mellow and distinctly dry. It’s very versatile, and delicious served hot or chilled! It’s pairs well with a wide range of food, not just sushi and sashimi – get creative!
Yoshi no Gawa ”Golden Horizon” Junmai (Sake One)
Yoshi no Gawa is the oldest brewery in the region of Niigata, founded in 1548. Citrus, spice and caramel create a balance of savory and sweet flavors for a truly expressive yet subtle taste. This Saké is delicious chilled, but when warmed to body temperature becomes rich and creamy on the palate.
Fuku Chitose “Happy Owl” Yamahai Junmai (Kobrand/Joto)
Fuku Chitose is a small brewery in Fukui prefecture that specializes in Yamahai style Saké which are known to be rich and savory. The Happy Owl is great room temperature or warmed, with savory aromas of pumpkin and spices with complex earthy flavors. The finish is dry and long lasting, lending itself to pairing well with richer dishes like roast pork.
Kanbara Bride of the Fox Junmai Ginjo (Vine Connections)
This Saké is named after a local festival held every November. It has intense aromas of grilled nuts, pistachio, and a hint of white chocolate. Ripe honeydew notes finish crisp with a hint of lingering sweetness. This is an exquisite Saké that is very rich and luscious at room temperature or even a little warmer.
For those of you who know your Saké – it technically qualifies as a Junmai Daiginjo because of its 50% polish ratio, but the richer palate translates more as a Junmai Ginjo.
Enjoy experimenting this winter, and stay warm!
About the Author
Evans Horn is Sake Brand Development Manager for Young’s Market Company in Northern California. He has worked in bars and restaurants for almost 15 years, mostly behind the bar. His first official staff training was with Saké in 2006 and he has continued to enjoy it. Evans is a certified WSET Level 3 Saké (with Distinction), and is a passionate voice behind Young’s Market Company’s Sakés and their producers.