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Sake ~ Its Alcohol Content and Simple Tips to Enjoy It

Tom Inoue

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‘Is sake too strong for me?’… ‘How can I enjoy sake without getting drunk?’

You may probably have asked yourself any of these questions. Regardless of your alcohol tolerance or the type of sake you drink, knowing the right alcohol level is the key to enjoying this brew.

In this article, we show you various strengths of sake and effective ways to give you a full, fun sake experience.

1. Average Alcohol Percentage:15-16%

Alcohol content or ABV (alcohol by volume) of bottled sake is 15-16% on average. This is the highest among world’s fermented beverages, which includes wine, cider, and beer.

Alcohol content of sake, beer, and whisky

From 20% ABV, sake is usually diluted with water before bottling and shipping since brewers feel that its rich and strong aromas are best expressed at this level.

Note that some unprocessed sake’s ABV are as high as 18-20%. These are enjoyed mostly by sake fans. Legally, Liquor Tax Law in Japan limits sake alcohol content below 22%. If you want a strong sake, look for unprocessed or ‘Genshu’ sake.

2. Sake with Low ABV: 8-10%

Low alcohol sake brands

Photo Credit: http:2/mi-journey.jp/

Photo Credit: http://www.jizakeshop.co.jp/

Known as non-traditional beverages especially made for female drinkers, sake with lower alcohol content are now gaining popularity. Its ABV ranges from 3 to 13%, with an average of 8-10%. It often comes in sparkling, cloudy, or yogurt-enriched varieties, with hints of sweetness and acidity.

3. Four Tips to Enjoy Sake without Getting Drunk

3-1. Drink Sake Slowly

Sake is by itself tasty and aromatic. By drinking it little by little, you take advantage of its rich aroma. Japanese small cups called o-choko allows you to drink sake slowly, and at minimal volumes. Also o-choko’s aesthetic design gives you that ethnic feeling.

aesthetic sake bottles

3-2. Drink Warm Sake Moderately

Warming or heating sake produces a deeper taste, and increases its alcohol effect.. Because this can make you lose sight of the number of tiny cups you take in, we advice you to drink it moderately. The body absorbs it easily, so moderation is the key to enjoying this warm brew.

3-3. Enjoy Sake with Food

Because food slows down your absorption of sake, it is best taken with various kinds of food. Pairing sake with seafood like sushi and sashimi is a common practice. But, aside from famous Japanese dishes, sake experts encourage us to try it with global cuisine, such as French or even pizza.

3-4. Drink Sake with Water

We suggest drinking the same amount of water with sake. Water dilutes the alcohol levels and stimulates its fast elimination from the body. This also keeps your mouth refreshed so you can enjoy the sharp taste and aroma of sake after every sip.

Enjoy your sake! Kampai!


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