Japanese Sake: Hot or Cold?

by Mieke - TripleLights travel specialist

Should you drink Japanese Sake hot or cold?

Japanese Sake: Hot or Cold?

After a hard days' work, what tastes better than a cold can of beer? Or, after an intensive afternoon on the skating rink, how sweet does a glass of warm glühwein taste?
The temperature of a drink (as with food) is very important for the overall flavour. Japanese sake is no exception. The only thing that is exceptional is that you can enjoy different types at different temperatures, ranging from fridge-cold (5oC) to tongue-scorching (50oC) temperatures.

Heat it up, or keep it cold?
That depends on 3 factors: your own preference, the food you're having it with, and most importantly, the sake itself. Some (or rather: most) sakes are brewed to be served at a particular temperature, and if you abide by that, you can ruin the flavor.

Cold Sake
Traditionally, cold sake was known as good quality sake in Japan. Heating it up was a way of masking unwanted flavors. However, that is no longer the case (like it is no longer necessary for hygiene purposes to eat lemon and salt with your tequila shot, but that's a story for another time). Nowadays, sake that is served very cold (5oC) are usually pure sake (ginjō) of the fruitier, dryer kind. Warming up the sake in your mouth, the bouquet of flavors unfolds. Sake that is served cold (10oC) is likewise pure, but sweeter and rounder.  

Room Temperature Sake
Not all sake has to be chilled or heated. There are some varieties (although a bit exceptional) that are best served at room temperature (15-20oC). Complex flavors have a chance to develop, so well-balanced sakes (including bottles of a few years old) are often served at this temperature. Note: if you don't finish the bottle, keep it in the fridge to preserve the flavor better.  

Hot Sake

Hot sake is probably the most well-known way to enjoy Japanese sake in the West. Basically, it depends on your own preference, but a large part of sakes can be enjoyed hot. The simpler varieties (called 'futsūshu' in Japan, or 'normal sake', sake with additives such as distilled alcohol) are best enjoyed hot (30-55oC). Heating up sake, especially up to 55oC is a tricky business, and you should be careful not to ruin the flavor, but it's best to just try out per variety how the flavor develops when heated up, and which flavor you prefer. Note that a variation of just 5oC can make quite a difference in flavor! Also, after a few cups of sake, be careful with the hot sake as you don't want to burn your tongue...

Need help planning your trip to Japan ?

If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Japan, You can send a message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.

In the TripleLights website you can find the best professional guides all over Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our local guides for Japan


25 Oct 2014

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started

Recent Tour Reviews

“ Knowledgeable & easy going tour guide ”

Excellent
37 minutes ago Traveler: Deb -   Tour Guide: Mitsuru

It was awesome meeting Mitsuru! He was really helpful and adaptable when organising our one day tour in Tokyo. We had a great day with Mitsuru in Tokyo. Our tour included different sites around the city that we were keen to visit, and we traveled around both by foot and subway. I'd definitely recommend booking Mitsuru as a local tour guide.
read more

“ visit tokyp ”

Excellent
8 hours ago Traveler: Linda -   Tour Guide: REIKO

very good, very knowledge, professional
read more

“ 100% worth the money ”

Excellent
12 hours ago Traveler: Adrienne -   Tour Guide: Michiko

We've never hired a guide before, but thought this would be a good choice since we don't speak a word of Japanese and wanted to experience some local culture. Michiko was the perfect guide for us. Not only was she knowledgable about the area, but Michiko was also able to track down some things that I wanted to do that would not have been available to me, if I had looked for them on my own. First, ...
read more

“ Fabulous tour! ”

Excellent
16 hours ago Traveler: Paul -   Tour Guide: Kuniko

Even though we were early for the start of the tour, Kuniko was already there and waiting! An excellent start. We set off from our cruise ship to the heart of Tokyo using public transport which is the only way to travel! You get to see lots of sights and sounds that you would miss stuck on a coach. Although be advised that the return journey was during rush hour so like any major city the subway g...
read more

“ YOSHI IS PERFECT. ”

Excellent
18 hours ago Traveler: BRYAN -   Tour Guide: Yoshi

There are 13 million people in Tokyo. I have no idea how many guides there are in that figure, but I DO know, I got the best man for me, to be my guide. I chose him from his video on the TRIPLELIGHTS site. He spoke English perfectly. Sadly, he was only available for one day during my 4 day visit to Tokyo. I told him what I wanted to see in my limited time. Noodles and sushi being the number tw...
read more

“ Apart from seeing mt fuji, enjoying her company and finding out about Japanese daily life ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: David -   Tour Guide: Shoko

We would actually give Shoko 10 stars if we could. Firstly Shoko is a first class lady and human,with a sense of humour and went to an enormous amount of planning and reconaisance for our day tour. Much more than we had expected. We love her. Shoko even brought her luck by rubbing a lucky rabbit foot and Mt Fuji revealed herself from the cloud.
read more

“ Outstanding ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Karen -   Tour Guide: Dai

The first big challenge, especially if you’ve paid upfront on behalf of a containing nervous cynic(s) is - will he turn up? Dai arrived bang on time (of course! I’m in Japan!) Dai is a very pleasant, mild mannered individual, who went out of his way (literally) to accommodate our needs by travelling to our nearest metro station to meet us.. Dai helped us to visit some great sights in T...
read more

“ Wonderous Akihabara ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: Yoko -   Tour Guide: Shinya

Shinya is an excellent tour guide. He is super! In Akihabara, there are so many flashy buildings for electronic products, anime, cosplays, toys or neo cultures. I could look around them with no wasting time as selected thanks to him. Everything I watched in the tour was much deeper than I thought. Thank you!
read more

“ Great guide ”

Excellent
1 day ago Traveler: John -   Tour Guide: Yasuna

Yasuna was very helpful from start to finish. I only had time for a day trip to Kyoto, arriving from Tokyo in the morning and concluding by the end of the day. Prior to our meeting that day, she asked me some questions to help plan the time well. When I arrived, she was at the agreed meeting spot at the exit of Kyoto station waiting for me, and we went from there. While we toured around Kyoto, Ya...
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Japan

Chat with a local tour guide who can help organize your trip.
Get Started