Hot vs Cold Sake
Most drinkers have their first sake experience with warm sake. It’s cozy and unlike any other drink you’ve had before. As you become familiar with sake, you might hear that you should try cold sake (not to say warm sake is bad, it’s still a great choice and all based on your preference) There’s a lot to learn about warm and cold sake so let’s get started by answering a few simple questions and clarify if you should be drinking sake warm or cold.
What Should be the Serving Temperature of your Sake?
Most sake has a recommended serving temperature on its label. The recommendation is always suggested to help bring out the best flavor and aroma of the particular sake that you are drinking. This is usually determined by the brewmaster (toji).
Warm and hot sake pair best with strong flavor and intensity foods like seasoned meats with high umami notes. Ginjo, nama, and sparkling sakes are generally best served chilled because of their delicate aromas, flavors, and bubbles (nama and sparkling).
Why Drink Warm Sake?
Warm sake is largely categorized by cheap, low quality sake sometimes even with added distilled alcohol (helps cheapen production). The warmer temperature is often used to disguise its low grade and help enhance some of the umami notes that would not be present chilled or at room temp. Sake was traditionally warmed because many years ago sake was rougher bodied and fuller. Warming helped improve the taste and mask the less-than-refined notes, and it was easy to do via microwave or stovetop. We don’t judge warm sake, there are a lot of warm sake we love so try them all. Just remember Sake High! is always best enjoyed chilled. <3
How do you Warm Sake?
Most Japanese restaurants and bars in America and Japan serve warm sake. They usually rely on microwaves which take 20-40 seconds to warm the sake and get the job done quickly.
Otherwise they typically place the tokkuri (usually the ceramic sake carafe) in a waterbath (or use the stovetop) for about 2-4 minutes to warm the sake between 104-122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why Drink Chilled Sake?
Now back to chilled sake! Higher quality sake like premium junmai and ginjo styles are better chilled because of the delicate flavor and fruity, floral aromas that characterize it. Warming the sake would pretty much disguise and remove their delicate notes. In general, if it’s fruity, or higher in alcohol —above 15% or 16% ABV (Sake High! is 15%) — those generally do not go as well warm. Warming the sake destroys the precise and refined flavors and fragrances our brewmaster worked so hard to have you enjoy.
Sake High! has a fruity aroma, with a fresh, sweet, medium body so it is recommended to drink it chilled whether from the can or bottle!
So What’s the Right Temperature of Sake?
Make sure to always read the label on your sake bottle! To get nit-picky, here’s two good rules of thumb:
Cold sake should never be chilled below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). Think of it like a white wine. The sake will peak in flavor just below room temp. Keep Sake High! in the fridge or cooler for a few hours before serving.
Hot sake should rarely go much higher than 131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius)—and some sake is best at room temperature (just read the label!).
At the end of the day, all sake is fun and unique. Find what appeals to you in the moment! You'll find your favorites the more you experiment, and we know Sake High! will be one of your favorites for a few reasons.
Haven't tried it yet? Check out locations near you where you can buy Sake High!