Should Sake Be Served Cold?

by Benjamin Knopp

Benjamin Knopp

Co-founder of Kurashu and in charge of spreading the word on sake.

After first coming into contact with the hot swill that was sold as sake in Germany ca. 2000 (and almost scarring me for life, poor me) it was a surprising pleasure to discover the elegant and sophisticated taste experience that good quality, chilled sake can deliver. 

I thus learned that cold sake is necessarily good and hot sake necessarily bad. At least that's the answer I would have given you if you would have asked me at any time over the past 15 or so years.

After all, since sake in Germany was served hot to mask the horrendous alcohol flavor that cheap booze usually has it would be the same anywhere, right?      

And then my mind was blown a second time. I tasted a sake that was flat, almost boring, when it was chilled but then opened up to an immensely broad flavor profile the moment it was heated up to the right temperature (yes, we have it in stock, check out this gem of a warm sake here). 

Now of course I know the real answer: that different sakes taste best at different temperatures. Luckily, at Kurashu, each sake that we sell comes with a recommended temperature range that we find the sake to taste best at. 

In general, though, elegant and light sake should be served chilled while hearty and bold sakes should be served room temperature or warmed. The reason is that heat destroys fine aromas that a Daiginjo or a Ginjo carry and it accentuates the rich umami flavors of more bold, less polished sakes. 

If you want to learn more details about sake serving temperatures then check out our complete guide here

The specific situation or the dishes will also impact the choice of temperature. 

I couldn’t imagine drinking warm sake on a hot and humid summer day in Tokyo for example. But serve me that same sake after spending a day in Japan’s legendary snow and I will probably change my mind. 

Take our suggestions as a guideline and make up your own mind what you prefer. 

Also check out our posts on how to heat up sake and if drinking a sake cold why not try a wine glass?

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