How to drink sake the right way
By Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits March 20, 2021

As much as sake is a refined beverage with a rich history, it is a ceremonial drink and a cultural pastime in Japan. Hence, there is a traditional way to drink it. Learn how to imbibe it respectfully and avoid looking like a newbie.

Find your flavour

Totally different from other drinks, sake has a unique taste and fragrance. Also, its Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is much higher than that of wine or beer.

Since it is a potent alcohol, make sure you can consume and hold your drink. This is especially true of sweet sake, which you may enjoy consuming quickly.

For the novice sake drinker, it is important to try different types of sake until you can decide on the type that you prefer.

When choosing a bottle of sake, pay attention to the details on the label.

The sugar-to-acid level of the sake is referred to as the SMV or the Sake Meter Value. In Japanese, the SMV is called ‘nihonshu-do.’ An SMV of +5 is fairly dry, while -2 would be sweet.

Fresh sake is usually the best, while matured sake is stronger and rougher.

Don’t drink sake like a shot

Never take sake down like a tequila slammer – you will look silly to seasoned sake drinkers, and more importantly, you won’t get the full effect of the drink.

Hold the cup close to your face and inhale the aroma. Take a small sip, and let it linger in your mouth before you swallow it.

Sake has been refined throughout centuries’ worth of brewing to be best enjoyed sipped like you would a glass of tea or fine wine.

Drink it as an accompaniment with food

Sake is quite enjoyable with food, although some people think that it should not be served with sushi because of the presence of rice in both food and drink.

However, there are no hard and fast rules that you cannot enjoy sake as you relish your sushi – especially light bites such as sashimi or nigiri.

Traditionally, sake is best enjoyed with appetisers or during tapas-style dining called ‘izakaya.’

It pairs particularly well with spicy dishes, as the contrast in flavours is rather interesting and delightful.

Experts recommend Junmai with seafood and sushi, while Junmai Daiginjo matches well with meats.

For a selection of sakes to try, shop at

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