If you're about to take your first trip to a Japanese sake bar, then you might not know what to expect. Read on to learn more about this drink and the etiquette around drinking it.
1. Not All Sakes Are The Same
There are many different varieties of sake. For example, some sakes are sweet while others have a drier taste on the palate. You can try filtered or unfiltered wines of varying ages. Plus, the alcohol content in each type of sake can be different. You should take note of this when you order. Some sakes are extremely potent. It's worth experimenting with different types of sake to find ones you like to drink. If you're a wine drinker, then your preferences here will cross over to your sake likes and dislikes. For example, if you like sweet white wines, then you'll probably enjoy a sweet sake rather than a dry one.
2. Sake Can Be Served Hot Or Cold
Sake bars serve their wines at different temperatures. Sometimes, they recommend a temperature for individual wines. You can also request to be served a sake cold, at room temperature, or hot. In Japan, people often drink sake cold or at room temperature in warm weather and have it heated in the winter. Fine-quality sakes are traditionally served at room temperature while lower-quality drinks are sometimes served hot. Here, the heat of the drink masks the fact that it isn't of the highest quality. While you shouldn't assume that all hot sakes in a bar are of a lower quality, this is worth looking out for.
3. Don't Drink Sake Like A Shot
Sake is served in small cups. In terms of portion sizes, your serving will be around the size of a shot. However, don't be tempted to drink a cup of sake like a shot. Despite its size, you should sip and savor a cup of sake like a fine wine.
4. Don't Serve Yourself
You should learn a little about sake serving etiquette. While this might not be as important if you're simply visiting a sake bar with friends, etiquette does matter if you are drinking sake with Japanese people. You don't serve your own drinks here. You wait for other people to serve you. When they fill your cup, you tilt it towards them slightly to register your appreciation. You should also be alert to other empty cups on your table. You need to be ready to refill cups for other people in your group.
To learn more about sake and its traditions, talk to the staff at the Japanese sake bar you visit.