Ask Beau - "Does a sake taste different chilled and at room temperature?"
I enjoyed the Joy of Sake for the first time this year. However, I was surprised that the sake was served at room temperature. For lack of a better system I gave each sake a rating from 1 to 5 with 5 being unworldly. I tasted mostly Junmai sake but various others also. Now I want to purchase some of my favorites and drink them cold. But I am concerned how the taste will change because they are cold not room temperature. Is there a way to predict the taste of a chilled sake based on the taste at room temperature?
This is a brilliant question! I love it because there are about nine million answers. The simple answer is that since you liked the brews that you selected at room temperature then drink the ones that you buy at room temperature. Voila - problem solved! Many sake folks like their Junmai sakes served at room temperature, so therein is another answer. But why? Well to your point, sometimes sake gets "constricted" by chilled temperatures. Chill/Cold/Very Cold temps tend to tamp down certain qualities in a sake - certainly aroma for one, acidity for another, "thickness" for another. A cold brew drinks different than a room temperature sake - almost always! Some sakes taste better chilled and others don't for that very same reason.
"Is there a way to predict the taste of a chilled sake based on the taste at room temperature?" I love this! Why? Because I usually think the other way around! I will taste an "overly-chilled" sake and think - I wonder what this brew tastes like at room temperature. I will try to warm it in my hands, blow warm air on the glass etc. But your question is really cool. And I would say - if I had to - that the "taste" "flavor" of a brew at room temperature is more pronounced - more bold/vivid - would show more expansiveness than its chilled version. With the "Generality" gun at my head - I would say - in general - that a Junmai sake that you tasted at room temperature would be more "deep" "large" "wide" "acidic" "fleshy" perhaps "Sweeter" perhaps "zestier" than the same sake served chilled.
As a retailer I would say that since you liked a Junmai sake at room temperature, then odds are you will like it chilled as well! But as a so-called expert I would like to remind you that you were drinking many sakes at that tasting. Your palate and tongue was a little over- worked, and as such larger flavor brews tend to stand out. It's like the Mexican sombrero effect - the thing looked great on me down there, but I can't wear it around SF. Meaning - a bigger bolder more fleshy brew stands out and is more tasty in a large tasting, but as a single brew it may be too much. Your point of view may be different as your taste buds were having a "dance party" and that song sounded great that night really loud, but when you get it solo on its own - that tune may be a bit much! BUT, if this is the case then you may very well like the chilled version of this big brew. Or conversely you may like the flavor in-between chilled and room temperature.
Do you see where I am going here? There are so many answers - and I like them all!
Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All other correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)