The Right Bottle
Selecting saké both at a restaurant or grocer can be intimidating. Labels are often all in Japanese with little or no English to tell you what kind of saké it is. Look for labels with details in English, including style and some sort of tasting note. The single most important thing to do in selecting a bottle is to know what you like in a beverage (dry, fruity, light, full-bodied) and then seek saké that is similar to your preferred tastes. Ask for help if you are not sure. Better restaurants and retailers usually have someone on staff who knows sake and can help you with your selection. If all else fails, dive in and try something that looks or sounds interesting. Rest assured that with our saké you'll always have access to the information you need to make the perfect saké selection.
Organic, Vegan, Sulfite & Gluten Free
Saké offers a variety of added lifestyle choices. USDA certified Organic sake, like our Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo or Nigori provide an earth-friendly (and what many believe to be body-friendly) option. Nigori saké do not receive the refinement stage that most often uses a gelatin based agent for clarifying. Our Momokawa Pearl and Organic Nigori are Vegan friendly as there are no animal by-products used in refinement. Gluten and Sulfites cause a range of health issues so you'll be happy to know that sake are completely free of both elements.
Unlike wine, saké does not improve with age and does not require cellaring. You're actually better off buying a bottle of saké when you are ready to use it but if you do need to store your saké, do so in a cool, dark place like a wine cellar, under a staircase or simply in the refrigerator. The cooler that saké is stored the slower it ages and flavors remain pure and clean longer. If you store in a warm well-lit place, your saké runs the risk of premature aging.
Traditional saké service is a time honored tradition of "I pour yours and you pour mine." The goal is that your friend's glass is never empty and in return, yours shall never be empty either. Some saké enthusiasts insist that this is a necessary part of enjoying saké at any time and while we agree it's a wonderful tradition, it is certainly not critical to enjoying or even sharing saké. "Rules" like these make it too complicated when it is already complicated enough just to find a bottle you will like. Pick a bottle, chill, crack it open and serve. Don't make a ceremony of it unless you want to.
The Perfect Glass
This is where saké explorers and geeks crash. Old school thinking would have us all sipping saké only out of the small traditional cup called an Ochokko, which is great for an old world vibe and romantic evening but it's simply not the best vessel for saké. This is where saké is like wine because a standard white wine glass is actually perfect for saké. Wine glasses allow you to not only see your saké (checking for color and clarity) but help channel the aromas better so you can smell the saké. There are saké specific stemware/wine glasses that you can buy, but a simple wine glass is fine. Even a Dixie cup will do.
Premium saké today is intended to be served chilled and in the U.S. this is a good general rule to stick with. Chill your saké down to about 44-47° F as a general gauge. If you wish to heat your saké be careful not to do so past about 115° F or you'll start cooking it.
It is good to approach tasting saké as you would wine because each saké will have its own unique aromas, flavors and body.
- Look at it in a glass and gauge the color, which can tell you the age and level of processing. Light gold and green colors are hints to light filtration and pasteurization, while darker gold to brownish colors signify the saké is getting old, maybe too old.
- Sniff your saké and explore the aromas. Fresh fruit, herb and spice notes reflect a clean, properly aged saké, while earthy, mushroom tones suggest longer aging. Nuttiness is very common in Nama saké both fresh and months old.
- Taste often reflects the aroma so what you smelled should be similar to what you taste. Some components will be more dominant as you sip so take note of what you like and don't like.
Can't Finish A Bottle?
No fear. An open bottle of saké will store (with cap on) in your refrigerator for at least a month, usually longer. Our lovely beverage does not oxidize like wine.