How to Drink Sake – an Orientation

(8) Tasting sake and cool ways to drink it

Yeast Kimoto, please teach me the essential way of drinking sake!
Kimoto Hmm? That’s what I have been doing all the time! The order in which to drink sake, the different vessels, pairings with food…
Yeast That’s not what I mean – this time I want to learn about the way of drinking itself: how it can be more delicious, or how it can look cool.
Kimoto I see. The most delicious way of drinking means how to experience the deliciousness of sake to a further degree. Therefore the manner of sake tasting will be helpful.
Yeast Sake tasting? The way of drinking sake when judging it, like a professional - very cool! You must teach me!
Kimoto Hahaha, that’s really like you, Yeast, going for outward appearances, but alright! First we look at the color of the sake. When you use a wine glass, hold it at the bottom of the stem so that your hand is not reflected. Professionals even hold it lower, at the foot.
Yeast Terrific! I’ll also do so. What is the right color?
Kimoto In the case of sake, the color is not fixed. We can enjoy various colors, from transparant to light amber, and also slightly cloudy.
Yeast I see. And next?
Kimoto Bring the glass close to our nose and slowly enjoy the aroma. There are many words sommeliers use to indicate the strong and weak points here, but rather than memorizing those, it is better to think of various aromas from nature or in your environment, and see whether the sake resembles any of those.
Yeast Hmm. So I have to pay attention to the aromas in daily life. And next, are we finally going to taste?
Kimoto Yes. Take the sake in your mouth without swallowing it, but slowly become aware of the taste. There are various flavors in it, from the first impression to the taste that you gradually experience later on. When you taste carefully, you will be surprised at how much flavors there are. Also pay attention to the aftertaste after swallowing the sake.
Yeast It’s getting more fun!
Kimoto I’m not finished yet. Listen to stories about that sake and tell others about your impressions. Enjoy the deliciousness not only with your eyes, nose and mouth, but also in your heart.
Yeast I understand! This fits me better than a cool professional appraiser.
Kimoto Taste changes a lot depending on your physical condition and mood. It takes long practice to acquire a stable taste that is not affected by such things. But unless you want to be a professional, it's more interesting to accept the fact that your taste changes from time to time. You may find your new favorite sake by trying out what sake you just now experience as most delicious.
Yeast OK! Be honest with yourself. But I still feel some attachment to “cool ways of drinking.
Kimoto Fine. In terms of stature, it is better to have a straight back than bow your head and slouch. And you shouldn’t knock it back all at once. As regards the way of holding a small or large sake cup, the more you get used to it, the less awkward and the more natural it becomes. A sake set made by an artistic potter usually has a part that fits perfectly in the hand. Treat it with love. And as lacquer cups are easily scratched, be all the more more careful and protect them well.
Yeast Indeed, it’s all a matter of a relaxed attitude, as well as consideration for the things around you, and for other persons.
Kimoto Exactly. Don't make others feel uncomfortable, respect the others’ pace without hurrying them, and don’t let yourself be disturbed.
Yeast Hmm. Coolness looks more like a way of life than just outward appearance.
Kimoto Right! And something else which is cool is generosity. It’s my treat today, so please drink your fill!