Sake can be enjoyed at a number of different temperatures depending upon the characteristics of the particular sake, weather, food accompanying it, the occasion, the mood, and/or your personal preference. The Japanese believe that there is a specific temperature for maximum enjoyment of each sake for each person and have definitive terms for each.
We’ve heard of izakaya in Japan where there is a person who actually prepares the sake at the desired temperature for each customer based on his knowledge of their preference for each sake. Although such precision of service is remarkable and unlikely to be available to many of us in the U.S., but for off-premise consumption, many bottles’ back labels offer suggested drinking temperatures.
What we suggest at SAKAYA is that you experiment on your own, using the guidelines offered on the bottle but also trying sake at a variety of temperatures. You might start by chilling your bottle to hana-hie but leave the bottle out of the refrigerator as you continue to drink it to experience the change in flavor as the sake warms to suzu-hie. If you’re drinking a particularly bold, earthy, or robust brew, you might then try warming it (see our previous post) to hitohada-kan or nuru-kan. Take notice of the changes and at which point you most enjoyed the aromas and flavors. You may want to go further and sample it with some appetizer-sized foods as examples of salty, creamy, sweet, sour, spicy foods to see which pair best with your sake. Ah, but that’s a different post…..