Buying Sake Online: The Sake Social GuideWritten by Marc Smookler
How to Buy Sake Online
If you enjoy your cup of sake you will want to buy a bottle, or several bottles, of high quality sake. There are many different types of sake. You may like to experiment and try a few before you decide on the kind that you prefer. The drink is made by fermenting rice in the presence of the koji fungus and yeast. The process is quite unlike the brewing of wine or beer.
The Alcohol by Volume of undiluted sake is quite high, about 16% to 20%. Most brands dilute the alcohol before bottling it. Many people prefer a fresh brew, which is matured for no more than 9 to 12 months. There are some who like their sake rough and strong, and opt for koshu, which is matured for longer.
The different types of sake are usually distinguished by the amount of milled rice that they contain. The more the percentage of milled rice, you can expect the sake to be more delicate and subtle. Usually the drink is filtered; the Nigori-zake is an exception. This alcohol is cloudy and also contains some residue rice grains.
Tips on buying sake online
There are many vendors who offer different types of sake and several brands. Unless you have a certain brand and type in mind, it is important to choose a bottle that suits your palate and budget.
See these Sake Social "best bets" based on cost, best sellers and customer reviews:
Our Best Bets
MIZU NO SHIRABE "SOUND OF WATER"
Most online sake stores help their customers refine their search by offering choices based on factors such as the type of sake, cost and if customers prefer sweet or dry sake (see our "Shop Sake & Shochu" menu above to filter bottles this way).
Why Choose Sake Social?
With an extensive selection of all different styles of sakes and shochus – as well as kits for beginner drinkers and a sake membership club – we are your go-to online sake resource and want to help you find your next favorite bottle.
It is also possible to select sake according to the food that it will be paired with. For instance, if you wish to enjoy your cup with sushi and sashimi, then you will prefer sake that is different from what may be offered with BBQ. The brew is best enjoyed with food that has subtle flavors and doesn’t overshadow the rich body and subtle flavor of sake. You may enjoy the natural flavor of the drink or may like to opt for infused sake; such a drink would include a fruity flavoring such as raspberry or cherry.
Sake for beer & wine lovers
Some online stores can also help you select a bottle of sake according to your taste for wine or beer. This is a good option for customers who have not tasted enough sake to know what they like best.
Sake that includes brewer’s alcohol should not be considered to be sub-standard. On the contrary, such a drink is smoother than Junmai-shu, sake that doesn’t contain brewer’s alcohol.
Chilled or warmed
You can also make a selection based on the temperature at which you wish to serve and enjoy the drink. Ginjo-shu is best served chilled, as heating it would lead to a loss of flavor and aroma. If you are looking for brew that can be relished warm or hot, you can pick a junmai-shu.
More drinking tips
Most online stores that sell alcohol have a section that includes details on the type of liquor and brands that it offers. They may also have a social media presence. You could log into Facebook and chat with other fans and ask for recommendations and suggestions. You could also pick up tips on creating your own unique sake cocktails.
It is best to finish an open bottle of sake. When storing your bottles of sake, do keep them in a cool, dry and dark area. Also, take note of the shelf life of the bottles.
Shopping for sake vessels
Food and drink don’t just signify a celebration of life in Japan, but also help people make a spiritual connection with their deities. To truly enjoy this traditional Japanese liquor it is recommended that you follow certain rituals when serving and enjoying your sake. The alcohol is poured from a ceramic flask known as a tokkuri. It has a narrow and elongated neck and a bulbuous lower base. If you wish to serve the drink warm, the tokkuri needs to be placed in a pan containing boiling water.
The ceramic cups in which the brew is served are called ochoko. The cups are designed so that the aroma of the drink can be enjoyed before the sake touches your mouth. For special occasions, saucer like cups or sakazuki are used. The quality of craftsmanship of the ceramic cups influences the experience of enjoying sake. The manner in which the drink enters your mouth affects the sensual experience of enjoying the fragrance, texture and flavor of the drink.
Sometimes the liquor may also be served in masu or a sake box. The wooden box was traditionally used to measure rice and sake. You can place the ochoko on the masu or the masu on a sakazuki. Pour the sake in a manner that it overflows and fills the outer vessel too. Serving the drink in such a fashion indicates the generosity of the host.
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