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How Best to Enjoy Sake: The Top Dos and Don’ts
Different countries have different national drinks, and everyone can agree that the Japanese national beverage is sake. Of course, you must have heard about it before, or maybe you were fortunate enough to drink it at a party or gathering – but do you know much about sake and its history? More importantly, do you know the right way to drink it? There are some dos and don'ts to remember in case you don't want to look like a noob while enjoying it, and honestly speaking, some rules are worth remembering, too. When you remember these things, you might enjoy sake even more! So how can you best enjoy sake? Here's what you should know.
The general rules
If you're new to the taste of it (which can be an acquired taste), you must first know how to drink sake. The good thing is that there are several ways to drink it, and you can even pair it with your favourite sushi to have a meal to remember. There are also several varieties, so try the different varieties out there before settling on your final preference. Note that sake is not like beer or wine – it is more subtle in flavour and has more finesse.
In fact, sake is often served in a ceremony; it is warmed using a clay or porcelain jug or bottle. But you can also drink sake at room temperature or chilled. Its alcohol content is also quite different from beer or wine – wine usually has an ABV of 9 to 16 per cent, while beer usually has an ABV of 3 to 9 per cent. So if you were to drink undiluted sake, it would have an ABV of around 18 to 20 per cent, while if it is diluted, its ABV can drop down to about 15 per cent.
Dos and Don’ts when drinking sake
- Say it right!
The first rule to remember is to say it right! Avoid being classified as a newbie; try not to put your foot in your mouth when ordering it. The correct way to say it would be 'sa-keh' and not sah-kee.
- Figure out the flavour you like
You may have noticed that wine can be either sweet or dry – well, sake is the same way. It also comes in diverse flavours, and the level of sugar to acid in sake is referred to as the SMV, or sake metre value – nihonshu-do in Japanese. If the sake has a -2 SMV level, it has more of a sweet taste. On the other hand, if the sake has a +5 level, it would often be drier. You may have to sample various levels to see what you prefer – since sake is made for sipping, it can be difficult to drink if you're left with sake you don't like.
- Know the names
Aside from learning what SMV level you prefer, you also have to know the names of the different kinds of sake (just like Cabernet or Riesling, for example). If you are a sake beginner, it's best to stay away from Koshu sake because its taste is rough and strong. It's also better to avoid Futsu Shu sake, which has a low quality and grade and can give you a tremendously brutal hangover.
Your best bets would be Namakaze sake, which is unpasteurised, fresh, and fruity, along with Junmai, a sake that is smooth and subtle and goes down quite well.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.