Sake Control – The Do’s and Don’ts of Keeping Sake Safe
When you are in the business of selling sake for a living it is imperative to know your business. And our business is knowing sake. How to make it! How to ship it! How to deliver it! How to store it! How to condition it! And on occasion how to drink it! Ha!
In this regard we often get questions asking us how long sake lasts, when people should drink it, how long can you keep an opened bottle in the fridge, and out of the fridge etc. So herewith is a list of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to sake from the perspective of sake peddlers on the front line whose responsibility is to protect the very product that we cherish.
- DON’T let sake get too long in the tooth! A sake maker – toji – will make a sake to taste like something that he wants you to taste. He has selected the ingredients and brews a sake to achieve a certain feeling and flavor that is an extension of his education and personal style. To taste these efforts to their fullest most sake brewers will say a sake should be consumed between 12-18 months after the sake is released! So read that label and look for the date.
- DO enjoy your sake, but you don’t have to finish the bottle like you sort of have to do in the wine world! Yah I know I pick on wine a little bit, but seriously wine doesn’t taste that swell on day two or day three. That said sake fares much better in this refrigerated scenario. Why? Well first of all sake has no sulfites. Secondly, sake has a little higher alcohol content that acts like a preservative. And thirdly sake is built so well that it has incredible balance and does better sometimes with a little oxidation. In some cases sake actually relaxes in the bottle and tastes even better.
- DON’T leave your bottle of sake on the counter where the sun shines. I know the bottles are beautiful, but just like for wine, U.V. light is a killer of sake in its purest form. Ultra Violet light has a dramatic effect on the proteins in sake and bad things happen when the two meet! Different color glass bottles protect sake in different capacities, but the best bet is to keep sake in your wine cellar once you get rid of all your wine. If you don’t have a cellar think a cool dark space. (But DON’T forget it’s there!)
- DO drink your nama or unpasteurized sake in a timely fashion! Hey it’s living sake so why let it die before you drink it? Seriously! A brewer prefers the flavor and feeling of their sake in a “raw” state so they won’t pasaturize it the typical two times. Instead they release it – typically seasonally – and they want you to drink it then and in that season! (I know you read all of my pieces about aging nama sake, but it’s really a fresh brew and should be consumed in a freshly manner!)
- DON’T ever throw out sake that you think is beyond its prime! Ever! Sure you may have noticed the date is really past its prime (see first DON’T), but still don’t toss that bottle. Sure you may have had an open bottle in or out of the fridge for a heck of long time, but don’t send that puppy to the bin. And sure somebody may have gifted you a sake 8 years ago and you totally forgot about it, but don’t purge that bottle. Instead open that bottle and taste that sake. It actually may taste wonderful. Or it may taste a little flabby, in which case you should still not toss it! Why? Because you could warm it and it may blossom into something wonderful.
- DO search your fridge, closet, hamper, sports locker, trunk, picnic basket, Xmas stocking, camping gear, beer fridge, wine cooler, laundry basket, fireplace mantle, wine cellar, garage, golf bag, neighbor’s fridge for sakes that you have yet to drink or simply forgot. Drink them now! This is a reminder from all the do’s and don'ts team to clean up your sake portfolio by drinking those bottles that you are either hoarding or simply overlooked! There is a bottle in your house – we know it! Drink it! Enjoy it! Then come on down to the shop and reload for the summer!