In my previous column, I wrote that sake is like “Otaku world”, because there are so many brands all over Japan like characters in anime or video games. Not only is there a variety of brands, sake has many different ways to drink.
Sake can be tasted at various temperatures. Sake is served chilled (about 10 degrees Celsius) or at room temperature (about 20 degrees Celsius) like wine. Of course, it is also served at warm temperature (Called “Kan”).
Kan also has different varieties. For example, sake warmed to body temperature (35～37 degrees Celsius. Called “Hitohada-Kan”), sake warmed to about 40 degrees (called “Nuru-Kan”), sake warmed to about 50 degrees (called “Atsu-Kan”), etc.
When sake is warmed, the unique aroma and sweetness of the sake increases. So you might feel that the same sake is a completely different drink by differences of temperature.
“There are many characters, and sometimes one character turns into another character”・・・It’s really like the world of anime or video games, don’t you think?
By the way, at what temperature should we drink sake? It depends on personal taste, but there are also the best temperatures for each type of sake. For example, it is said that “Ginjo” and “Daiginjo” (I explained these in my last column) are good to drink chilled or at room temperature. This is because malic acid, the origin of their fruity aroma and clear taste, deteriorates in warm temperatures. In contrast, “normal sake” is suited for drinking at “Kan”.
In recent years, the best temperature specified by each sake brewery is written on their sake bottle.
To warm up sake, we pour it into a small flask made of porcelain or pottery (called “tokkuri”), and put it into a pot filled with boiled water. We sometimes use a microwave oven also.
We drink this warmed Sake with small cappuccino-sized cups made of porcelain or pottery (called “Ochoko”). Because we cannot guzzle hot beverages, we need to drink it in sips.
When we drink cold sake or room-temperature sake, we use glasses.
Since “Ochoko” is so small, we must pour the sake into it many times. You might think it’s a little bit complicated. However, it’s a ritual used to form closer relationships in Japan. Communication occurs by serving sake to each other and we can get familiar with each other very soon!!