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Sake Secrets – How To Heat Sake?

Sake, also known as Japanese rice wine, is a traditional drink in Japan. Normally, sake is served chilled. However, have you ever tried heating it before serving it? If not, you should try it out as heated sake will give you new interesting feelings with different flavors and aromas when heated at different temperature. There are several ways including traditional and modern ones in which sake is heated, but in this blog you will be suggested only easy ways how to heat sake and you cannot miss doing them!

Basic Things Related To Heating Sake

Before learning how to heat sake, first and foremost you should understand the basics of heating it thoroughly.

1. When To Heat Sake?

Today, prime sake is often served chilled rather than warm. If you have a less expensive type of sake and want to make its different dimension of flavor stand out, you can try heating it before serving it. Heat causes the alcohol to vaporize. In addition, aroma-producing ingredients with low boiling points also vaporize, making these flavors even more remarkable. This has very little effect on bitter acidic tastes, but sweet tastes get more pronounced. Thus, sake with a high level of acidity is often heated as the process can balance the acidic flavor and the sweet one. Besides, heating sake is also perfectly a great option for cold days in winter. With only a sip of heated sake, anyone who enjoys it can feel warmth spreading across the body.

How to heat sake

Heated sake is a perfect drink for winter days

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2. Determine The Right Temperature When Heating Sake

There is a wide range of temperatures you can heat sake to, from slightly warm to hot. The average temperature of kan sake or “warm sake” is between 42 and 45 degrees Celsius. The right temperature to choose depends in part on personal preference. As a general rule, warm sake is an ideal drink for cold or plain dishes like sushi, as well as dishes that contain soy sauce. Hot sake, on the contrary, is ideal to be served with warmer dishes such as hot pot or oily and fatty foods.

How To Heat Sake

Below are four simple and common ways of heating sake. Let’s check them out!

1. Heating Sake On The Stove

To heat up sake in this way, the first thing you need is a tokkuri (a glass bottle with a narrow, tall neck and open mouth). Next, you should follow these steps to have the greatest heated sake.

Firstly, pour the sake you want to serve into the tokkuri. As sake expands when it heats, you should not fill the container to the brim. Otherwise, the sake could burst out of the top.

How to heat sake on the stove

You should not fill the tokkuri to the brim

Secondly, fill a small saucepan with enough water to cover roughly three-quarters the height of the tokkuri you are using for the sake. Then, place the saucepan on the stove and heat it over medium-high temperature until the water begins to boil.

How to heat sake on the stove

Fill a small saucepan with enough water to cover roughly three-quarters the height of the tokkuri

Thirdly, turn off the stove and slowly submerge the sake into the hot water. You ought to place the sake as close to the center of the saucepan as possible. When lowering it, you should be careful so that no water can get inside the container. After that, let the sake sit for one to three minutes.

How to heat sake on the stove

Submerge the sake into the hot water

Finally, take the tokkuri of sake out of the hot water and serve it hot immediately. If it is too hot for you to touch the container with your bare hands, wearing oven mitts to remove it from the hot water is suggested.

How to heat sake on the stove

Take the tokkuri of sake out of the hot water and serve it hot  immediately

2. How To Heat Sake In The Microwave

Heating sake in the microwave is another recommended way, which is also simple.

The first step is to pour about 90 ml of sake for each serving into a microwave-safe tumbler or mug. A tokkuri should not be used in this method because the sake can be heated unevenly.

How to heat sake in the microwave

Pour about 90 ml of sake for each serving into a microwave-safe tumbler or mug

The second step is to put the mug of sake into the microwave and heat it with high temperature for 30 to 60 seconds. In order for the sake to heat more evenly, you can stir it quickly with a spoon when the microwave pauses at the 30-second mark. One good way of checking the temperature of the drink is by looking at bubbles. If small bubbles begin to rise, the sake is considered to be warm. If bubbles rise quickly and immediately to the surface, the sake is definitely hot.

How to heat sake in the microwave

Heat the mug of sake with high temperature for 30 to 60 seconds

After the sake is heated, pour it from the mug or tumbler into a traditional tokkuri and then immediately serve it to avoid losing flavor or heat.

How to heat sake in the microwave

Pour the sake from the mug into a traditional tokkuri and then immediately serve it

3. Heating Up Sake With A Slow Cooker

Not only is a slow cooker used to cook food, but it is also an ideal tool to warm sake.

First of all, fill the slow cooker with enough water so that the level of water is about three-quarters the height of the sake bottle.

How to heat up sake with a slow cooker

Fill the slow cooker with enough water

Then, cover the slow cooker, set the temperature to low and let the water heat up until it reaches a temperature of 40.5 degrees Celsius.

How to heat up sake with a slow cooker

Cover the slow cooker, set the temperature to low and let the water heat up

Next, open the lid of the bottle, uncover the slow cooker and carefully submerge the bottle of sake into the hot water. Besides, you need to make sure that no water gets into the sake.

How to heat up sake with a slow cooker

Submerge the bottle of sake into the hot water

After that, turn off the slow cooker and let the bottle of sake sit in the hot water for 30 minutes. The temperature of the sake can be gauged by looking at it. If small bubbles begin to rise, the sake is considered to be warm. If bubbles quickly and immediately rise to the surface, then the sake is hot.

How to heat up sake with a slow cooker

Let the bottle of sake sit in the hot water for 30 minutes

Lastly, lift the bottle of the sake out of the water. Remember to use an oven mitt to do that as the bottle may be hot. The hot sake should be served immediately; otherwise, it will end up cooling down too much.

How to heat up sake with a slow cooker

Use an oven mitt to lift the bottle of the sake out of the water

4. How To Heat Sake With An Espresso Machine

An amazing benefit of an espresso machine is that it can help to heat sake beside making coffee. Let’s see how it works!

First of all, need to fill the espresso machine’s metal or ceramic pitcher with about 90 ml sake for each intended serving.

How to heat sake with an espresso machine

Fill the espresso machine’s metal or ceramic pitcher with about 90 ml sake

Secondly, fill the upper reservoir with water and set the temperature of the espresso machine to low. Then, allow the water to heat up for about 30 to 60 minutes.

How to heat sake with an espresso machine

Fill the upper reservoir with water and set the temperature of the espresso machine to low

Next, open the lid of the upper reservoir and submerge the pitcher of sake in the water. Turn off the heat and let the sake sit in the warm water for 30 minutes. You should place the pitcher carefully to make sure that no water gets into the sake.

How to heat sake with an espresso machine

Open the lid of the upper reservoir and submerge the pitcher of sake in the water

The following step is steaming the sake. In this step, you need to remove the pitcher and then put the steam wand of the espresso machine into the pitcher and turn on the steam to the wand.

How to heat sake with an espresso machine

Turn on the steam to the wand

Then, allow the sake to continue heating up until it reaches a temperature of 40.5 degrees Celsius. If you want to check the temperature of the sake without using a thermometer, you can look at it. If small bubbles begin to rise, the sake is considered to be warm. If bubbles rise quickly and immediately to the surface, the sake is definitely hot.

The final step is to remove the steam wand from the sake and serve it immediately. You should be able to hold the pitcher without using an oven mitt. To serve the sake in a more traditional way, you can pour it into a tokkuri before serving it.

How to heat sake with an espresso machine

Remove the steam wand from the sake and serve it immediately

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with some useful ways to heat sake. When you find normal sake which is served chilled boring, you can add more flavors and aromas to it by heating it. This will both give your guests new experience with sake and create a new way of enjoying this type of beneficial alcohol.

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.