009_Hot_Sake

Professional Tips to Heating Sake at Home

Tom Inoue

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Japanese Sake is one of the few alcohol beverages that can be drunk hot. By properly warming it, you may remove off-odors and more importantly, you get to savor the taste and experience.

In this article, we give you common yet easy ways to heat sake without compromising its aroma and taste. Give it a try and experience how great it would be having warm sake in the comfort of your home!

To enjoy hot sake, consider the following:

  • Don’t overheat. Heating to more than 140℉ (60℃) causes the alcohol to overpower the flavor of sake.
  • Don’t leave it out for too long. Heat it too slowly and it will lose its aroma

1. How to heat Sake

Double Boiling

Sake double boiling

Double boiling is the most common and ideal to heat sake, because it heat sake evenly and moderately.

  1. In a pan, add water up to half the height of the flask and bring to a boil.
  2. Fill a separate flask with sake up to 80 – 90% full and wrap its mouth with plastic. Filling it up to the brim will cause it to overflow since alcohol volume increases with heat. Covering the mouth of the flask keeps the aroma in.
  3. Turn off the fire and slowly put the flask into the hot water. This is done to prevent overheating.
  4. Wait for 2 – 3 minutes. If the bottom of the bottle is relatively hot to touch, it should be ready. You can also use a thermometer to measure the sake temperature. As a rough indication, a small bubble appears on the surface of the sake at about 104℉ (40℃).

Want a quick and easy way to do this?

  1. Prepare a kettle, a glass cup, a bowl, and your sake.
  2. Boil water using the kettle.
  3. Add sake in a separate glass cup.
  4. Pour the boiling water into a bowl and carefully add the glass cup into the bowl. Adjust the height of the water to almost the height of the cup. Wait for 2-3 minutes.

Microwaving

Using the microwave is the shortcut to heating anything. You may heat sake in a microwave, but it doesn’t heat sake evenly. Therefore, we recommend using it only when in a hurry.

Sake double boiling

  1. Fill a small decanter or flask up to 80-90%. Wrap its mouth with plastic.
  2. Heat it for 40 seconds on 500-600W. Heating 180ml of sake will raise its temperature to around 95℉ (35℃ ).

Some tips when microwave:

  1. Halfway through heating, stop the microwave and swirl the skittle to even the heat out. Caution! The skittle might be hot.
  2. After heating, wait for 10-20 seconds and swirl the skittle to even out the temperature.
  3. To keep the sake warm, heat another skittle filled with water. Once heated, remove the water and refill the skittle with the heated sake. This evens out the temperature and gives you a hot container for your sake.

Note: The best heating method is still double boiling, because it allows you to control the temperature better and it keeps the skittle warm for longer periods.

2. Change in Aroma and Taste by Heating

Heating can bring about dramatic differences in the character of sake. Here is a general guide to help you understand the effects of heating to sake’s aroma and taste.

Changes in profile of sake by temperature

Warm sake can be enjoyed from 86℉ (30℃) to 131℉(55℃ ), with the most ideal being in the 104℉ (40C°) and 113℉ (45℃) range.

Sake with strong flavor and rich acidity taste, such as Junmai-type and aged sake, become more delicious when heated at 108-113℉ (42-45℃ ). Sake with mild and delicate flavors are best warmed at 95-104℉ (30-40℃ ).

3. Best Temperatures to Drink

There’s no perfect or right way of heating sake. It’s more of you deciding which sake is best for your palate. Refer to this handy chart to guide your sake warming and sipping experience:

Dry sakes (like Honjozo and Junmai-dry type)

Heating this type to 122℉ (50℃) enhances the dryness and sharpness of sake.

Strongly acidic and full-bodied sakes (like Junmai, Yamahai and Kimoto).

Rich bodied and matured, this sake type is high in umami. Heat them at 104℉ (40℃) to experience optimum sweetness and umami.

Fruity, fragrant and fresh sakes (like Daiginjo and Namasake).

These types may be heated to up to 104℉ (40℃), but generally not recommended because their fruity aroma and freshness may be lost. To fully enjoy their flavors, they are best served chilled or at normal temperature (around 50℉ / 10℃).

With these handy guides, it won’t take long before you have a new sake favorite.
Enjoy your warm sake at home!

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