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Serving Etiquette

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On This Page:
Serving Sake
Warming Sake
Pouring Etiquette
Storage Tips
Polite Way to Hold Cup When Someone Pours for YouHow Should You Serve Sake?
Although sake has traditionally been served warm, advances in brewing technology have led to sake flavor profiles that are destroyed by heat. Nowadays, most premium sake tastes best when slightly chilled. If sake is too chilled, however, many of its flavor components are masked, just as a wine's would be. Sake, also like wine, presents a different personality at different temperatures. Each sake has its own optimum temperature, and this will vary, with the sake as well as your personal preference. As a general guideline and staring point, consider the following:  
  • Ginjo and other premium sake are good lightly chilled. 
  • Junmai, with its slightly fuller flavor and slightly higher acidity, often comes into its own slightly cool or at room temperature.
  • Sake that is warmed should not be too hot, but rather just above body temperature, about 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 45 degrees Celsius). 
Warming Sake
Sake is easily warmed by placing a filled flask in a saucepan of hot water or in a microwave. However, allowing a chilled sake to warm up and into room temperature, tasting it all the while, is an excellent way to find what works best for a given sake. It will help you match it with food as well as determine your own preferences. Warmed sake should be just above body temperature, about 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 45 degrees Celsius). However, the sake introduced at this site is best served slightly chilled. Warming the sake has a tendency to mask the true flavors intended by the brewer.

Pouring Etiquette
With sake as with beer, pouring for others is a common custom in Japan that takes a bit of getting used to but has a wonderful charm and appeal once ingrained. Small cups (called
ochoko or guinomi) Polite Way to Hold Cup When Someone Pours for Youand a larger serving flask or vessel (tokkuri) allow for frequent refill opportunities, each of which is a miniritual of social bonding. In formal situations, the tokkuri is held with two hands when pouring. Likewise , the person receiving should lift his or her glass off the table, holding it with one hand and supporting it with the other.
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The more formal the situation the more such etiquette is observed. Even in informal situations, pouring sake for one's table companions is the norm, although pouring and receiving parties generally revert to the more natural one-hand grip. Among close friends, after the first round or so, all pouring rituals are often abandoned for convenience. Pouring for yourself is known as tejaku.

Your companions may feel an uncontrollable urge to refill your cup when it is empty. Resisting their entreaties for more is generally futile, so the best approach is to allow your cup to be filled and then take tiny, tiny sips so that it never goes dry.

Storage and Consumption Tips
Each eSake product is of premium quality, and is best enjoyed cool or chilled. We do not recommend warming our sake, as this tends Top of Pageto mask or destroy various flavor characteristics of the beverage.  
  • If you don' plan on drinking your sake soon after it arrives, please keep it refrigerated or in a cool, dark room. Prolonged exposure to heat or direct light will spoil your sake. 
  • It is generally best to consume your sake soon after you purchase it. Although sake is sometimes aged, often with wonderful results, the sake we sell is best consumed within a few months after purchase.  
  • Once you open your bottle of sake, we suggest you enjoy the complete bottle within two or three hours, and if you have friends over that's not too hard. If you simply can't finish it all, please store in your refrigerator and drink the remainder within the next two days. Premium sake, once opened, begins to oxidize, and this noticeably impacts the taste.    

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