Expert tips to enjoy sake

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Relish the world of sake!

Let’s ask an expert for fun, delicious ways to enjoy sake, flavor profiles useful for selecting a label, and food that complements sake.

  • Expert tips to enjoy sake
  • Discover your favorite sake
  • Sake and
    food pairing

Japanese sake has a history of 2,000 years. It’s impossible to describe in a word the myriad ways and levels of enjoying this beverage. First there are many varieties including the flowery Ginjo, the full-bodied Junmai, the clean and light Honjozo, and the increasingly popular aged sake. Next there is a range of ideal serving temperatures from slushy to chilled, room temperature, warm, and hot. Then there are special utensils and seasonal dishes for bringing out the flavor. Plus every region of Japan has local breeds, or jizake, which are delicious when tasted in their place of birth along with the local cuisine. Three elements determine the flavor of jizake: climate, water, and dietary culture. Sake from Tokyo, for instance, uses water with a high mineral content and pairs well with salty soy sauce-flavored Edo-style recipes. A good rule of thumb is to select a mild sake for light dishes like tofu and whitefish, and a full-bodied sake for heavily seasoned dishes. Other delightful matches are aged sake with chocolate, Daiginjo with fruit, and Junmai with cheese. Finally, choose a cup according to type—wine glass for sake with a flowery aroma, Edo Kiriko cut glass for light sake, ceramic for full-bodied sake, and so on—and accentuate the flavor.

The beauty of sake is that it matches dishes made with the season's freshest ingredients.

Akiko Tomoda

Adviser for this section

Akiko Tomoda is a total liquor consultant, or specialist in the pairing of food with liquor including wine, sake, shochu, beer, and cocktails. Drawing on her 25-year-long career and feminine sensibility, she plans and organizes public seminars and events, and provides consulting in wining and dining. Tomoda is a sommelier, sake sommelier, shochu sommelier, Fukui Prefecture food ambassador, and Kuma Shochu ambassador.