How do you warm sake?


Sake Guide: Heating up sake | Makoto-Ya Singapore

Should I warm sake?

In Japan, heating up Japanese Sake is called ‘Okan suru’ and Japanese Sake served warm is called ‘Kanzake’. This uniquely Japanese method of heating sake has a long history and which dates back over 2,000 years. You might have already known that Japanese sake can be a very versatile drink. You can serve sake at varying temperatures, some are best served chilled, whereas some would taste better warmed. In this post, we are going to give you a better understanding of the different temperatures of serving various types of sake.

There is a Japanese saying that sake can taste very different at every 5 ℃ change in temperature, so it is up to the consumer to find what they like.  By heating sake, you are able to enhance and experience the complex flavours in the beverage. These flavours can spread across the palate, giving a deep, full-bodied flavour when swallowed. However, heat can destroy the delicate flavours of certain types of sake. Therefore, there is a general rule on the best temperature to serve certain classifications of sake as seen below.

  • Junmai Ginjyos, Junmai Daiginjyos, Daiginjyos: Best served chilled due to the delicate, fragrant, and elegant flavour profiles. By heating these sakes, it would destroy the flavours and fragrances the brewery has worked so hard for. 
  • Tokubetsu Junmai and Ginjyos: Can be served at room temperature or chilled.
  • Honjyozo: Good all at temperatures, but recommend to be served either chilled or warmed.
  • Futushu: Good all at temperatures, however, the recommended serving suggestion would be either room temperature or warmed. Most restaurants in Japan that serve warm/hot sake would serve futushu, or also known as table sake.

If you enjoy your sake warm, or even hot, here are two ways you can heat up your sake without it losing its aroma!

Heating up your sake

Warming sake in a water bath

  1. Pour sake into tokkuri (sake instrument for holding sake) and tokkuri in pot.
  2. Add water into a pot. Ensure that the water level is enough to cover the sake in the tokkuri.
  3. Turn on heat for the pot, and gradually heat up the water. Do not use high heat.
  4.  Monitor the temperature using a kitchen thermometer to ensure that you do not overheat your sake.

Warming sake using a microwave

Usually, the microwave is not the recommended choice to heat up sake. As the temperature in a microwave increases rapidly. it increases the chance of overheating the sake. So do note to heat the sake in short intervals.

  1. Pour sake in tokkuri and cover tokkuri with a microwaveable plastic wrap or anything that would be able to fully cover the opening of the tokkuri.
  2. Microwave in batches (15s each on low) till the sake is heated to the temperature of your liking.
  3. Do not microwave for too long or it will destroy the flavour profile of the sake.

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