Learn How To Drink Sake from a Japanese Master Chef

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Learn How To Drink Sake from a Japanese Master Chef

The Japanese have been brewing and consuming sake, a sort of rice wine made from fermented rice, for more than 2,500 years. Throughout that period, sake has become as Japanese as rice itself; a distinctively dry beverage used to commemorate important events or enjoy a peaceful night with friends, complete with its own rituals, customs, and laws. It might be clear, hazy, or strong—and similarly, it can be consumed in a variety of ways. Here are some pointers on how to get started.

Learn How To Drink Sake from a Masu Cup by a Japanese Master Chef.

How To Drink Sake From A Masu Cup
How To Drink Sake From A Masu Cup

Drinking  Sake from a Masu Cup

Sake is traditionally served in one of two ways: in a short transparent glass or in a square wooden cup known as a masu cup. Masu cups were originally tiny square wooden boxes used to measure rice servings in mediaeval Japan. Most masu is cleverly constructed from hinoki or cedarwood, which naturally has antibacterial characteristics that help keep food and drink fresh. Masu is now lidless and was originally used to drink sake on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. Because sake is typically fermented in wooden barrels, the wooden masu cup is thought to complement it. Additionally, they have a woodsy, clean aroma and may be used as a container for the shot glass or as a cup on their own.

In the majority of sake parties, glass is put within the masu cup, over which the host pours sake until it cascades like a waterfall into the masu. The overflowing is a gesture of compassion and generosity on the part of the host to demonstrate their gratitude for your acquaintance (or, in a restaurant setting, for your business). Additionally, it serves as a little gesture of celebration, lifting the spirits and allowing one to appreciate one’s current condition of life.

Sake Drinking Tips

Observing the sake overflow and being unsure if it would topple over creates a lovely moment of tension during which time appears to be a virtual standstill. By establishing this moment of suspension, this ritual keeps your attention focused entirely on the gorgeous sake waterfall. And, like with any ritual, ceremonies are governed by regulations.

  • When drinking with other people, the sake should always be poured for you, and vice versa.
  • Sake may be consumed from either vessel, however, it is most often consumed from both.
  • Sake, like wine, should be consumed gently.
  • Taking a shot of sake is comparable to drinking merlot.

While sake may be consumed cold or warm, consuming it hot degrades the alcohol’s inherent complexity. Thus, gradually warm, but never to the point of burning.

Sake Drinking Methods

If drinking straight from the masu, hold the cup diagonally towards you with your hands on two opposing corners, so that a third corner faces directly towards you.  Keep the cup near to your face and inhale the sake’s scent, which will be faintly tinted with the aroma of fresh cedar. Tip back and take a little drink, letting it linger for a while in your mouth before swallowing.

If you’re merely using a masu to prop up an overflowing sake glass, dip your head low and drink straight from the glass, crane-style while leaving the masu cup and its components on the table. As the contents of the glass begin to deplete, you may take it up and pour the remaining sake either the glass cup or the wooden masu, depending on which vessel you want to drink from.

Pyramidal Stack

The sake pyramid is a common ceremony at toasts. It consists of an even number of masu cups put one on top of the other in the form of a pyramid (the number represents one for each person at the event). Prior to the toast, the host will pour a bottle of sake over the tip of the pyramid, first filling the top cup and then continuing to pour until the sake overflows and flows into the other cups on the base. The concept here is similar to that of overflowing hospitality: just as the top cup feeds the ones below, the host shares his joy and generosity with his guests.

Learn more about Sake at Wikipedia.org or view our Sake Cup Collection.

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