Service of Sake
Sake is often poured into very small cups which relates to Japanese cultural and etiquette topics. The tradition of pouring the other person's glass is symbolic of friendly interaction and looking out for each other and is considered polite when sharing sake. Pouring sake for others is known as shaku suru.
A wide, flat traditional sake cup often used for ceremonies such as New Year’s celebrations or wedding ceremonies. Often made with lacquer painted on wood, porcelain, earthenware, glass or metal.
A traditional sake cup which can come in different sizes and shapes and materials, but usually hold about 60ml (2 oz.). They are usually made of ceramic pottery, tin or glass, and again due to their small size, they are intended to be refilled frequently reflecting the tradition of Japanese hospitality.
A sake carafe which can also be used for heating and serving sake. They are commonly 150-300ml (5-10 oz.) in size. They are usually ceramic pottery, but can also be made of glass or tin.
A small wooden box usually made of Japanese cedar (sugi). Masu are generally not used as a sake vessel because the wood imparts flavor into the sake. Historically, the masu was used for measuring rice, but the masu is occasionally used for ceremonial occasions. The most common size is the ichigo size, 180ml or about 6 oz.
An offshoot serving style from the masu is known as “mokkiri,” where sake is poured into a glass that sits inside a masu until it spills over the rim of the glass into the masu. This method represented special serving skills as well as generosity of the server by giving the customer more the minimum.
Ideal for serving premium sake either chilled or at room temperature. As with wine, one can swirl the sake to aerate the sake and release the aromas, thus enhancing the appreciation of subtler aspects of the sake.
Sake can be served at various temperatures (from 5-55⁰C, 41-131⁰F) and enjoyed in various manners. We recommend three temperature ranges:
Chilled sake (“reishu”) (6-13⁰C, 43-55⁰F)
Most sake can be enjoyed chilled, especially ginjo and daiginjo grades as well as namazake and sparkling sake. At even lower temperatures closer to freezing, aromas are diminished, so lower than this range is not recommended.
Room Temperature Sake (“hiyazake”) (15-18⁰C, 59-64⁰F)
Many junmai and honjozo sake as well as kimoto junmais, koshu and certain ginjo styles can be enjoyed at room temperature. At this range, the aromas release easier and the umami becomes more prominent.
Warmed Sake “kanzake.”
Warming sake will make flavors more intense, fuller bodied and higher in acidity. Ginjo styles generally will lose their distinctive ginjo aromas and flavors which tend to be more delicate. Namazake and sparkling sake should never be warmed.
Sake is best warmed in a hot water bath. A microwave is generally not recommended, but as a last resort, it can be used, but care should be taken to use lower heating cycles and to warm the sake slowly to avoid overheating and damaging the taste. There are various temperature ranges, but we provide two main ranges where most kanzake can be enjoyed:
• Nurukan (40⁰C, 104⁰F)
• Atsukan (50⁰C, 122⁰F)