How to Drink Sake the Right Way: A Beginner’s Guide

Sake is a traditional Japanese beverage that offers a unique experience to anyone who drinks it. It comes with a rich history, which means that there is a right way to drink it.

If you’re new to Japanese sake, you might be worried about consuming it properly, especially if you don’t want to be overwhelmed, confused, or offensive to anyone. Don’t worry — here’s a quick guide to drinking sake the right way: 


1. Understand the Right Pronunciation

Before you do anything, it’s essential to learn the correct pronunciation of sake. After all, you need to know what to say when you order from an authentic shop.

Remember, it is not meant to be pronounced as “sah-kee”, you should say it as “sah-keh.” Knowing the difference between the two can save you the embarrassment of looking like an aloof tourist.


2. Know the Different Types of Sake

There are three main classifications of sake: junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo.

Junmai is the most basic type of sake, and is the one you should start with. It only contains rice that has been polished to 50-70% of the original grain. Junmai is also known as pure rice sake. The Japanese name means “pure rice”.

Ginjo is the next tier. It contains rice that has been polished to 60-70% of the original grain. Ginjo is made using the best rice, which results in a sweeter drink that also has a higher alcohol content. The Japanese name means “refined rice.”

Finally, Daiginjo is the pinnacle of sake. It contains rice that has been polished to 70-90% of the original grain. Thick and sweet, this is the most expensive kind of sake around. The Japanese name means “super-refined rice.” 


3. Find Your Favorite Flavor

There are so many different types of sake, so you’ll need to find the one you will like the most. It’s always best to start with a clear sake and work your way to something more fruity and sweet. As part of your practice, you should drink as many different kinds as possible until you find the one you like best.


4. Don’t Drink Sake like You Would a Shot

Sake is both a beverage and an art form, so you should not drink it in the same way you would down a shot. Avoid chugging it down to make you look like you’re on fire. 

Instead, you should hold it in your mouth for a little bit, as this is a way to appreciate the different flavours. After a few seconds, swallow it. If you’re not drinking the right way, you’ll end up consuming more than you need and too quickly.


5. Try It Cold and Hot

Some people enjoy drinking sake cold, while others prefer it warm. It’s up to you, but you should try it both ways. Drinking it warm is the most traditional way, but you can find out what you like best by trying both options. 


6. When Drinking in a Group, Don’t Pour for Yourself

When you’re drinking sake with a group, don't serve yourself. It’s always polite to pour for the person to your right. If you occupy the space to the left, you need to let the person to your right pour for you. 


7. Don’t Forget to Say Kanpai

It’s important to offer a toast before enjoying any kind of drink. This is true for sake as well. Make sure that you say “kanpai,” which means “cheers”, and is easily understood by everyone in the room. It’s a great way to express gratitude toward your hosts and encourage everybody to have a good time.

Sake can be confusing for those who haven’t tried it before. However, you can understand the different kinds of sake and how best to drink it with the right knowledge and information. It’s not as difficult as you may think, and with practice and patience, you’ll be able to perfect the way you drink it.

Do you need to buy sake in the UK? Check out Sake Shoten today. We bring exclusive and world-class sake to the UK. Choose from top-tier sake brands and bundles when you explore our store. Buy now, and have a taste!