October 2005

Room Temperature Sake – The Forgotten Temperature Zone

Posted by Beau Timken in 2005, Newsletter, October

Chilled Sake! Cold Sake! Cool Sake! Seems like all that all I am hearing these days is drinking sake chilled. (And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!) But I have been reminding people that there are other flavorful temperature zones within a bottle of sake.

The temperature of the sake dictates how the acidity and aroma present themselves. The colder the sake the less the nose is present and the acidity is more muted. The warmer the sake things tend to open up. When judges taste sake professionally they are looking for a temperature just below room temperature. Of course there are plenty of other temperatures including freezing, cold, chilled, slightly chilled, room temperature, lightly warmed, warmed, hot and lava "killed my taste buds for a week" hot.

This is just a gentle reminder to try your favorite sakes at several temperatures. Focus on room temperature for a while. Try a Junmai, Ginjo, and Dai Ginjo experiment. Most brewers would say that they would want the Ginjo and Dai Ginjo chilled, and if you were to try one room temperature it would be the Junmai. I say give them all a bash. I find it fascinating how different textures and feelings emerge at varied temperatures. But more importantly I am amazed how different flavors present themselves.

The best test is to "know" a chilled sake. Try the same sake chilled at least three times. Then on your next bottle, let the baby stay at room temperature. And behold the sake that you thought that you knew is completely different (or not).

I will include a review that I wrote about Urakasumi Junmai three years ago. In it you will see my two-temperature assessment:

Urakasumi – "Misty Bay" From Miyagi Prefecture 1724. Junmai. SMV: +2 Acidity: 1.3 This junmai fits perfectly into the category of medium- dry. It has soft nose of rice and dried leaves, and has a pale yellow sheen. There are two sakes within this brew as it plays different roles at different temperatures. Served room temperature this junmai has a very nice entrance of chocolate wisps and a savory aftertaste. The middle mouth is smooth and round with a slight tingle on the upper gums. Served chilled this junmai brings forth a fruitier feel of soft pear and mellow mango. It is disguised very well for a junmai, subtle yet elusive, and all the while it sits remarkably well on the palate. Clever and well built from start to finish. A light and smooth type. Word: Clever – Wine: Merlot/ Sauvignon Blanc – Beer: Soft Ales – Foods: Salty and savory fair, shrimp dumplings, soba noodles, sautéed filet of sole.

In this day and age of power outages and fuel shortages drinking your sake room temperature may be the environmentally sound thing to do. So do your part in saving the planet and drink your sake room temperature today!

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