What’s the Difference Between Hot and Cold Sake?

June 6, 2018

Sake is an ancient alcoholic beverage unlike any other—at its core, sake is a wine brewed from a grain.

Sake is made using fermented rice. While sake boasts a texture and mouthfeel similar to wine, its brewing process is akin to that of beer. It’s made by converting the starch in rice to sugars, which are then converted to alcohol through yeast fermentation. Prior to brewing, the rice is polished, so as to remove the bran.

The first known mention of sake in Japan dates back to the 3rd century, though it’s believed that rice fermentation practices date back even farther, and possibly originated in the Yellow River Valley region of present-day China.

In Japan, the sake production process rapidly industrialized in the early 20th century. The Japanese government even went so far as to host state-sponsored tasting competitions, and opened a government-run sake research institute. At one point, sake sales generated nearly 30 percent of the Japanese government’s tax revenue.

Today, sake is enjoyed around the world. Outside of Japan, it’s found most commonly at sushi bars and Japanese restaurants. While it’s possible to simply go and order a glass of sake at your favorite sushi house in Phoenix, AZ, you should be familiar with the customs surrounding sake consumption, and the different ways it’s traditionally enjoyed.

Hot sake

Traditionally, sake has always been served warm. Full bodied, mild sakes are still best served when heated. When sake is chilled, many of the best aspects of its flavor profiles are inaccessible. Warming sake allows all of its complex aromatic and flavor notes to open up completely.

Sake is usually warmed by placing a filled serving flask in a bowl or pot of hot water for several minutes. This will allow the sake to gradually warm up, without causing any of its alcohol content to dissipate.

Cold sake

Recent advances in sake brewing technology are allowing sake makers to create crisp, clean sakes that are best served when chilled. These sakes are generally lighter and boast exceedingly delicate flavor profiles.

Sakes that have the descriptors junmai-ginjo, gingo, daiginjo or junmai-daiginjo, as well as unpasteurized sakes, should be enjoyed just above refrigeration temperature, or at the same temperature at which you would drink a classic white wine. This temperature will bring out the fullness of the sake’s acidity.

PURE Sushi Colony is a sushi house in Phoenix, AZ offering high-quality Japanese cuisine and a delightful and expansive sake menu. We offer one of the Phoenix region’s best happy hours from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each and every day. Our drink menu includes imported beers, Japanese-inspired cocktails and more.

We use high-quality, fresh fish in all of our sushi and sashimi dishes. If you aren’t a seafood fan, we also offer chicken, beef and vegetable-based meals. If you’re looking for a fun and inviting atmosphere in which to try sake for the first time or the 50th time, look no further than PURE Sushi Colony. We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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