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

“ Walking tour of Tokyo ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Liz -   Tour Guide: Marcus

Marcus was excellent. We used the train system and walked and saw may highlights of Tokyo.
read more

“ Excellent Guide ”

Excellent
2 hours ago Traveler: Ewaldo -   Tour Guide: Mitsuru

Na nossa opinião, o Mitsuru é um guia excelente. Além de nos guiar pelos melhores pontos turísticos de Tóquio, ele também recomendou bons restaurantes, explicou detalhes relevantes sobre a cultura japonesa e ainda deu dicas valiosas de como organizar o resto dos passeios que haviamos programado para outras cidades do Japão. Ele também é pontual, bem humorado e paciente. Enfim, um guia nota 10! ...
read more

“ Excellent service on shuttle from Tokyo to Yokohama port ”

Excellent
3 hours ago Traveler: Robin -   Tour Guide: ASKAtours

This company provided excellent service! We had scheduled a transfer from our Tokyo hotel to the port for our cruise. A typhoon caused the cruise to at first be delayed then postponed by a day. TripleLights was on top of it every step of the way and kept rescheduling the shuttle. Their communication was beyond excellent. When they couldn’t reach us by email, they phoned our hotel to check in....
read more

“ So Informative ”

Excellent
5 hours ago Traveler: Lena -   Tour Guide: Dai

My partner and I really enjoyed our tour with Dai. In addition to showing us all around Tokyo, I loved that he took the time to provide us the history and fun facts for each of the places we went to. I feel like my understanding of the history and culture of Japan grew so much as did my appreciation for it. Dai was super open to my many questions and didn't hesitate to answer them. We ended up hav...
read more

“ Excellent guide ”

Excellent
10 hours ago Traveler: HERMIE -   Tour Guide: Fujiko

Fujiko made our Niigata tour, though only for a day, very memorable. She took the extra mile to grant our request to visit a nearby place which was not included in the itinerary. She has good command of the English language and communicating was a breeze. I highly recommend her if you need a guide in Niigata.
read more

“ Matsuyama & surrounds ”

Excellent
15 hours ago Traveler: Bob -   Tour Guide: Kaz

Kaz was very helpful, reliable, well informed and responsive. A pleasure to have as a personal guide in unknown territory.
read more

“ Riko's Best Spots of Tokyo (8h) ”

Excellent
16 hours ago Traveler: Eng -   Tour Guide: Riko

My friend, I and our spouses was shown around Tokyo for 8 hours on Sun 9 Sep 2018. Ms Riko arrived promptly at the hotel we stayed to meet us. I will not write on every details of our 8 hours walking tour except to comment that the places of interest that Ms Riko had chosen in her planned itinerary were much to our likings. Overall we are very pleased with Ms Riko being our guide to Tokyo for...
read more

“ Kahoko truly showed us all areas of Tokyo in the 2 days we were with her. Enjoyed eating Japanese foods and discussing our 2 country's cultures and beliefs. ”

Excellent
17 hours ago Traveler: Beryll -   Tour Guide: KAHOKO

Kahoko made us feel comfortable and really showed us all the different areas of Tokyo city. We came to have a better understanding of Japanese life and customs. We got to experience and shop the different food and retail markets It was a great experience. We never could have done it on our own
read more

“ Excellent experience! ”

Excellent
18 hours ago Traveler: Douglas -   Tour Guide: Tokyo Chartered Cars

Our driver, Chris, was on-time, very well-informed and offered good suggestions for additional sightseeing. His English was very understandable and he was a wonderful source of information. If we ever have a future opportunity for this service, we would definitely use Tokyo Chartered Cars and request Chris for our driver. We highly recommend this service.
read more

Related cities

Plan your trip to Japan

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