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How to Drink Sake: A Beginner’s Guide to Japan’s National Beverage

Japan’s beloved beverage, sake, has long since taken the world by storm. From the traditional izakayas in Tokyo to the chicest bars in New York City, it’s clear that sake is more than just a drink – it’s a cultural experience. But for many first-timers, the question that often comes up is, “How exactly do you drink sake?” Well, dear reader, grab your ochoko because you’re about to embark on an exciting journey into the world of sake-drinking etiquette.

The Art of Sake Drinking

Sake is not just about the taste; it’s about the experience. There are a few key steps involved in the art of sake drinking.

Choosing Your Sake

First things first: choosing your sake. Now, this is where things can get a bit complex due to the wide range of sake grades and types of sake. Do you fancy a premium Daiginjo, or perhaps you’re more interested in the cloudy delight that is Nigori? No matter your preference, remember: the best sake is the one you enjoy the most.

The Right Temperature

Once you’ve chosen your poison, it’s time to consider the temperature. While some sakes are best served chilled, others come alive when gently warmed. Check out our guide on sake serving temperature to ensure your sake is served at its optimal temperature.

The Perfect Pour

Now, let’s get to the actual drinking. The traditional way to drink sake involves a small ceramic cup known as an ‘ochoko’ and a flask called a ‘tokkuri’. But here’s the fun part: you’re not supposed to pour your own sake! It’s customary to pour sake for others at your table, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Savor the Flavor

When it comes to actually drinking the sake, take a moment to appreciate the aroma before taking a small sip. Allow the liquid to linger in your mouth to fully appreciate the complexity of flavors. Is it fruity? Earthy? Floral? The beauty of sake lies in its diversity of flavors.

Sake Tasting at Its Best

For a truly immersive experience, why not consider a sake tasting? You’ll have the opportunity to sample a variety of sake grades and styles, deepening your understanding and appreciation of this iconic Japanese beverage. And remember, sake is best enjoyed responsibly and in good company.

Now that you know how to drink sake, it’s time to get out there and start tasting. Whether you’re in the bustling sake regions of Nada or Fushimi, or just enjoying a quiet evening at home, there’s a world of sake waiting for you.

So here’s to good health, good company, and great sake. Kanpai!






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