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How to Drink Sake

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

It’s no secret that sake is having a huge moment in the US: Back in 2019, the US was actually the biggest importer of Japanese sake—and the demand has continued to skyrocket over the last few years.


If you’re curious as to how to drink sake the right way, then you’ve come to the right place. We love that you’re looking into celebrating and honoring sake’s traditions!


We’ll give you the rundown on how to drink sake the traditional way as well as list more modern ideas on how to enjoy it.


What is sake?

Sake (pronounced sock-eh) is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice that was perfected in Japan. The word “sake” in Japanese translates to “alcoholic beverage.”


Sake is sometimes referred to as “rice wine” in the US, but the process of making sake is actually more similar to how beer is made. Premium sake, like ours, is made with only simple, all-natural ingredients and is free of additives and preservatives.


Sake typically has an ABV of 15%, which is higher than that of wine and beer.


How to drink sake

Sake is traditionally served in small cups or glasses. Sake is supposed to be sipped, just like a glass of wine or beer. This is so that you can fully taste the rich flavors that have been perfected throughout the fermentation process. Sake complements all foods and courses—from appetizers to mains to desserts.


If you’re drinking sake with friends and want to stick to traditions, don’t serve yourself. Take turns pouring sake for each other and once everyone has a glass, raise ‘em for a toast, and say cheers or “kanpai” before drinking.


We definitely recommend enjoying sake slowly and in good company, but if you don’t want to stick to these traditions, you don’t have to. Rules? We don’t know her. Sake goes well with all kinds of dishes and in our view, is best served chilled.


Should you drink sake cold or warm?

Generally speaking, you can drink sake at any temperature. Lower-quality sakes are typically served warm to mask their taste. Premium sake, on the other hand, is best enjoyed cold. Our sake, for example, is always served chilled, never warm or hot. Looking at the label on your sake to see what the brewer recommends is a good starting point if you’re not sure what’s best.


Despite what the labels say, though, you can always experiment with different temperatures to pinpoint what sake tastes best to you. Try the same bottle of sake hot, lukewarm, and cold to see what you like.


What should you drink sake with?

Your local sushi joint might be the only place in your area that serves sake, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Sake can be paired with lots of different cuisines—and it’s not meant to make or break a meal in the same way that wine might be.


Sake makes an excellent addition to a meal when served with salads, pasta, burgers, or desserts like cake or pie.


There’s no wrong way to drink sake


Sake can be enjoyed traditionally or not—there’s no one way on how to drink sake. We encourage you to try sipping it in different ways—hot, cold, with tacos, BBQ, pizza, and more—to get a feel for how you like your sake best. Whatever floats your boat: Remember, there are no rules here.


And, despite what some might say, there’s no need to wait ‘til your next sushi outing to enjoy sake. You can indulge in sake at home any time with Sake High! We’ve perfected our legendary sake recipe so you can sip with anyone, anytime, anywhere.


Find it in a store near you and bring your loved ones together.


Sip and read more:

What is Junmai Sake?

Is Sake Good for You?

What are the Types of Sake?

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