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How to enjoy sake (Japanese rice wine)

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Sake (Japanese rice wine) can be found fairly easily overseas. I go to the biggest Asian grocery store in Albuquerque to find a variety of sake – even unfiltered, milky-opaque sake, “Nigori sake.”

Most restaurants and liquor shops that serve a wide range of sake should be able to explain what kind each sake is and the best way to drink it. For example, one of the premium grades is called “Jummai Daiginjo.” The grades chart at esake.com explains the grade as below:

DAIGINJO: even more highly milled rice, again with or without added alcohol; the taste is even lighter and more fragrant and fruity than ginjo sake; at least 50% of rice kernel is ground away during the brewing process. Called Junmai Daiginjo when no alcohol is added.”

When I get a bottle of sake from a friend of mine, I check the grade. If it is non-premium sake, I would definitely warm it up to about 120°F to drink it. If it still has the smell of alcohol, I usually use it for cooking. If the sake is premium-grade, I would chill it in the refrigerator before serving. If I do not like it very much, I will warm it to about 70°F. If it still does not taste right, I will drink it at about 100°F. I never warm it up to a higher temperature than the body temperature.

However, I have found another way to enjoy sake – making sake-based cocktails. Hakushika shares the recipes of sake cocktails. Also you can make “Sake Highball” by gently stirring the mixture of sake (45ml), ginger ale (30ml), lemon juice (one lemon) and some ice.

Warm sake would sound appealing in winter. But drinking premium-grade sake is always good at any time.

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