There can be a number of common questions that come from a sake beginner, including:
Should sake be consumed warm, cold, or at room temperature?
What kind of a glass or cup should you be using for drinking sake?
Chill Or Not To Chill?
The truth is that there is no solid rule to follow. The more important considerations will be the type of sake that is in question, as well as your own personal preferences.
Some sakes will be at their best in terms of taste when you serve them cold, while others will be just perfect when you serve them warmed. Each sake is going to be different, and the connoisseurs of sake will tell you that you need to experiment. Do whatever tastes best to you. It is never going to be fun if you are more worried about whether or not you are drinking it wrong.
With that being said, there are some general guidelines that you can use to help you in either warming or cooling your sake:
– Talk with the staff at the shop, bar or restaurant that you are at about a recommendation, as they will know whether it will be best warm or cold.
– Avoid any extremes. Whether your are chilling it or warming it, you never want to overdo it. Overheating or getting it too cold could disrupt the aromas or flavors of the sake.
– Warming: Never heat the sake directly. Instead, you should be pouring it into a receptacle that can take some heat. You can heat it gradually in a water bath. Just avoid heating it too intensely or too quickly, which means you should never microwave it.
Without trying to overgeneralize, a great deal of sake experts will say that daiginjo and ginjo sakes will be best not warmed. Being chilled will enhance the aromas and flavors. many of the honjozo and junmai sakes will be fine either way. Warming these will bring out the smooth nature and complex flavors.
Various sakes will taste wonderful at different temperatures, as the differing temps will bring out differing characteristics. This is what makes them worthwhile if you are looking to experiment a bit.