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Editor’s Notes

Hello, this is Pocket Concierge editing team.
Enjoy sake in a cooled sake cups (called ochoko in Japanese) paired with Japanese food. This is the image a lot of us have about sake. As it gets colder, hot sake tastes even more delicious. But we actually can order hot sake in the summer, and there are times we drink cold sake in the winter. A lot of us might think hot sake pairs better than cold sake if we eat something like oden. This time, we are going to talk about the relationship between the flavors of sake and the dishes and will introduce facts about the recommended temperature.

Shun No Aji ICHI | Pocket Concierge

The major classification of sake is “sweet” and “dry.” The “sake meter value” (SMV) shows the amount of sugar. A lot of you might have seen labels showing that a sake is SMV+3 or SMV-9.

The SMV is classified as below.
More than +6.0 Very dry
+3.5〜+5.9. Dry
+1.5〜+3.4. Slightly dry
-1.4〜+1.4. Average
-1.5〜-3.4. Slightly sweet
-3.5〜-5.9. Sweet
Below -6.0. Very sweet

Although I just talked about the SMV, this actually is not a standard that clearly tells you whether it is sweet or dry. It is a rule of thumb. This is because in addition to the SMV, the acidity of sake influences whether you feel the sake is sweet or dry. For example, for sake with high sugar content and low acidity, it will taste quite sweet, even if you the SMV is high, which means it has a low sugar content. In contrast, you will feel that a sake with a strong acidity tastes dry, even if it has a low SMV, which means it has a high sugar content.
On top of all of this, the flavors can change depending on the temperature of the sake.

Contents

1. Characteristics of Hot and Cold Sake You Should Know

2. Delicious Sake Is All That Matters

1. Characteristics of Hot and Cold Sake You Should Know


SAKE Scene Masufuku | Pocket Concierge

The characteristics of hot and cold sake are definitely a must to know if you want to enjoy sake to the fullest. Hot sake refers to a method of heating sake. “Atsukan,” hot sake is about 50 degrees. “Narukan,” slightly hot sake is about 40 degrees. I referred to several definitions defined by sake breweries, but this is just a rule of thumb. When you heat sake, the flavor of the sake increases as well as its umami. But you also have a stronger alcohol taste. This is why most sake is said to taste even drier when it is heated. This is why full-bodied sake like “honjozo” (sake made with a slight amount of alcohol to enhance the aromas and lower body) and normal sake might be suited to be heated than a lavish, ginjo type sake. However, there are junmai daiginjo sake made to suit hot sake, so know that each sake has its own recommended pairing.
As for cold sake, this is a method of chilling sake to about 10 degrees. It can be around 15 – 20 degrees during winter time. Contrary to hot sake, lavish junmai sake and ginjo sake are suited for this. However, since it is harder for humans to taste things when something is colder, sake that tastes just right when chilled might taste quite differently when it is left in room temperature.
Whether it is hot or cold, the temperature will change from the time it is offered, gradually getting close to room temperature. Enjoying the temperature and the flavor change is part of the enjoyment of sake.

2. Delicious Sake Is All That Matters


Akaboshi to Kumagai | Pocket Concierge

Although we show you the know-how to how to enjoy sake adjusting its temperature, it does not mean you need to be super careful when drinking it at the time. Anything is okay if you think it is delicious and are enjoying your time drinking sake. But a little bit of knowledge about the temperature of sake could make your time with sake even more delicious and fun.

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