Test Your Sake Smarts

Those that enjoy Japanese establishments know how relaxing sipping on a cup of warm or cold sake can be. Before you head out to your favorite sushi spot or hibachi grill, give this list a read and get ready to impress the table with your sake knowledge.

sake cup

Photo courtesy Luigi Anzivino

  1. You don’t pour your own sake. The first rule of sake etiquette is to serve others and have another tablemate serve you. Doing so encourages social interaction and when being served you must lift your cup off the table with both hands and sip it before setting it back down.
  2. Sake has a high water content. You’re getting your drink on and staying hydrated!
  3. There’s no wrong temperature. Whether you enjoy sake hot or cold is up to you, but certain sakes are best served at suggested temperatures. Flowery sakes are ideally served cold and robust, dry sakes should be drunk warm.
  4. Sake is sulfite-free. For those who are sensitive to sulfites, kampai!
  5. Know your serving sets. Those little cups you sip on are ochoko, and the large flask on the table is known as a tokkuri. If your sake order comes with little wooden boxes to drink out of, those are called masu.
  6. Sake has a low histamine content. Are you prone to blushing or headaches after a few glasses of wine? Sake helps you avoid this problem.
  7. Traditional sake brewers have a party when new sake is made. This is called kurabiraki and takes place in late winter or early spring.

Do you know proper sushi etiquette?