Should it be drunk hot or cold?
Updated: Aug 1
Several truisms exist regarding the temperature at which sake should be served. I confess I have even repeated some of them. How many times have I heard: “The best sakes are drunk cold” or “These are the cheap sakes that we reheat”?
In fact, some of the best Junmai deserves to be sipped hot. And others, especially the Ginjo, should be enjoyed at a low temperature; the heat would destroy their delicate aromas.
Trust your nose. You will love to savour your fresh fruity or floral sakes; these aromas dissipate at the first warmth. On the other hand, more earthy or cereal aromas (like those of raw or aged sake) stand out more when they are reheated.
Essentially, fuller, more earthy sakes are generally good for warming. The heat enhances the umami, but take it easy, it is best served lukewarm or slightly hot.
Very dry (Karakuchi) sakes are good candidates for even higher temperatures. Often times, these sakes already have an alcoholic flavour and strong heating enhances their intrinsic character.
Obviously, your best bet is to experiment, perhaps, starting with the Jo-on level (20 degrees Celsius) and exploring extreme temperatures with caution;
55 °C is hot!
The Nomenclature :
In Japan, sake is ordered by naming it according to the desired temperature; at every five degrees, the drink takes on a different name.