A Look at Proper Sake Etiquette

“Ich, ni, san! Sake, sake, sake!” You may have heard this in Japanese restaurants near your San Jose home, but it’s not exactly how the Japanese take their sake. If you wish to avoid accidentally breaking a glass and keep your alcohol intake under control, follow these tips on serving and consuming sake in accordance with traditional Japanese sake etiquette.

Pouring sake

Storing Sake
Like fine wine, sake is best stored in cool, dark rooms. Store your sake in a basement, wine cellar, or refrigerator. If a sake bottle has been stamped with a “best consumed by” date, mark it on your calendar and make a point to serve your sake before that date.

Serving Sake
For centuries in Japan and elsewhere throughout Asia, sake and other variations of rice alcohol have been served warm. As sake quality has improved, this has changed. Today, only sake of less-than-premium quality should be served warm. The finest-quality sakes are best served slightly chilled, at a temperature in the 45-55 degree range, in traditional sake containers. These include small  ochoko  or  guinomi  cups  and the larger  tokkuri  serving flask.

Heating Up Sake
If you are warming your sake, shoot to serve it at the temperature of a nice hot tub (100-104 degrees). To ensure that the sake does not come to a boil and lose some of its flavor or alcohol content, use only low heat.

Drinking Sake Down
They may be fun and appropriate in some venues, but sake bombs should never be consumed without permission from restaurant staff when you are out. Use traditional serving containers, keep sake chilled, and try to consume a bottle within a few hours of opening it. Should you be drinking a bottle on your own, do not follow this advice. Pour out how much you anticipate drinking, and preserve the rest immediately through refrigeration.

If you would like to serve or drink sake properly but do not want to purchase the  tokkuris  or risk messing anything up, head on over to  House of Genji. Proudly serving fresh sushi, fine sake, and some of the tastiest  tappan  food in San Jose, our venue is great for a range of occasions. For information about our menu items, which include sake, call (408) 453-8120.

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