“Ask Beau” – “Is it bad to microwave my sake?”
Hmmmmmmm! That’s a loaded question. And my quick answer is “nuke away!” But that is not my preferred answer.
Desperate times require desperate measures. So if you are desperate, and this is from a sake purist’s perspective then go ahead and use a microwave. Who cares? The sake police will not bust down your door and tie you up with rice stalk handcuffs. The result is you get hot sake. End of story. Or is it? Is that hot sake as good as it gets? Does that microwave sake taste as good as a pan-heated sake? Did you actually get the temperature point that you wanted?
Here’s the skinny on nuking sake. When using a microwave, nine out of ten times you overheat the sake. You cook it. You basically change the taste and the feel of the brew, because you have taken it to a damaging heat level. This is called “frying” a brew. And sake is not meant to be fried. But if you fry a sake is it ruined? Nope, it’s just a little different, and so too is the tip of your tongue as you just seared away the top layers of skin and taste buds! Voila!
There are so many ways to heat sake. If you have the time a slower heating method is better for the structure and the outcome of the hot sake. A slow burn allows the alcohol to blend out of the brew in a far less damaging capacity. When you flash fry sake in a microwave you rip apart the water and alcohol particles in a far faster and more furious way.
The bottom line is, if you can warm sake in a pan of boiling water then do it! Just like they have done in Japan for hundreds of years. If you have to nuke sake in a microwave then imagine sake makers a hundred years ago using a microwave. Weird image right? Weird just like nuking a sake when you don’t have to!