Sake is a commonly used alcoholic beverage made from rice both in Japan and throughout the world. Is sake required to be chilled? Yes, sake should be chilled since air and other external conditions can influence its quality. Sake can be warmed up but is typically served cool. However, it is never given an extremely hot serving because heat might ruin the flavor and scent of sake. Learn more about sake, how it’s manufactured, how to store it, and some refrigeration best practices by reading the information below!
What Is Sake?
Sake is manufactured from fermented brown rice and undergoes a laborious manufacturing process. Sake has been around in some shape or another for about 2000 years. The term “sake” refers to alcohol in general, and it encompasses a wide range of alcoholic beverages.
However, in the case of this renowned drink, we typically refer to rice wine, which is an inaccurate word. Sake is commonly referred to be a rice wine, yet wine is defined as anything made from fermented fruit.
In the case of sake, this beverage is made from fermented grain, making it much more similar to beer! To understand why sake requires refrigeration, we must first examine the science and method involved in its manufacture.
What Makes Sake Different?
Sake is produced using a rather basic method, but the degree of precision and attention to detail required to create this beverage is the reason it is so highly esteemed worldwide.
The voyage of sake begins with a specific variety of brown rice that is grown according to the brewery’s specifications. Once the grains arrive, they are thrown into a machine that removes the rice’s outer layer, which is composed of protein and fat. This step is crucial, as leaving the skin on will significantly alter the flavor of the sake!
Rice is polished until only fifty percent of the grain remains. In contrast, the rice grain we consume at home is typically only minimally polished, preserving up to 90 percent of the grain!
These grains are highly recognized as one of the world’s finest varieties of rice. The grains are then subjected to a steaming process in which they are continuously steamed (not cooked) until they reach the desired consistency.
On the manufacturing floor, master brewers are continuously monitoring this operation. They are accountable for supervising the production processes and assuring the quality of their particular breweries. The steamed rice is then placed in a big container and allowed to develop mold.
Sake’s Relationship With Mold
Yellow koji-kin, a greenish/brown mold, is used to make Japanese sake. This mold feeds on the rice’s starch, turning it into sugar and ultimately alcohol.
Sake was only accessible as a single product, kuchikami-no-sake, before the invention of koji-kin. Sake was made by spitting grain into a saucepan after chewing it. The starch in the rice was digested and fermented with the help of the enzymes in the spit. The koji-kin of today are a blessing from God.
To manufacture sake, the rice is stored in a humid, temperature-controlled atmosphere for a while while the necessary mold grows on it. The resulting substance is subsequently fermented using yeast and water.
Why Is Sake So Well Regarded?
The fact that the entire procedure is completed by hand, beginning with the mixing of the water and yeast mixture, gives this delectable beverage its worth and respect. It’s a demanding job that necessitates continuous motion and observation.
Only professionals should attempt it, and master brewers thoroughly evaluate the blend to assure a premium product that can be sold internationally. After all of this effort, the produced sake is purified and treated once more before being bottled.
Why Does Sake Need To Be Refrigerated?
When opened, sake MUST ALWAYS be refrigerated. To preserve the flavor and aroma of an opened bottle of sake, store it at 40°F.
Rice wine has delicate fragrant nuances that are particularly sensitive to their surroundings. This is why heating sake is not recommended and should only be done by someone with experience.
Sake should be served cool or at room temperature. Also, an opened bottle can be left on the counter for a while, which will not alter the sake’s shelf life but will affect its quality and flavor.
While its subtle aromas can be kept in an unopened bottle, once opened, air enters the container and slowly oxidizes the components that make up the sake, particularly its flavor.
This process is exacerbated as the temperature rises, which is why sake should not be left out on a hot summer day.
If you have an unopened bottle, you can keep it on the counter, which will have no effect on the flavor or quality of the product. Alternatively, you might store it directly in the fridge so that you can have a cool glass of sake as soon as you open the bottle.
Characteristics of Sake
Some of the most crucial qualities of sake are listed below:
Sake has a sweet and mild flavor with savory and sour undertones. It also has a somewhat nutty and very subtle fruity aroma that is often less intense than that of ordinary wine.
The similar flavor can be found in chilled sake. However, its sweet flavors are much more pronounced, giving this beverage a great texture.
Warmed sake is basically the same as cold sake, however the aromatic notes vary depending on how and for how long the sake is heated.
Professionals frequently judge the flavor of sake using certain flavor qualities such as Karami (dryness), nigami (bitterness), shibumi (tartness), amami (sweetness), and sanmi (acidity).
Sake is light and refreshing, with a crisp and somewhat sharp flavor. While most sake is transparent, there are a few kinds that are more hazy. A residue from the rice used to make the drink ends up in the bottle, giving it a hazy appearance. This enhances the sake’s flavor and provides a unique texture.
Sake’s viscosity can change very slightly depending on whether or not it’s been watered down. All types, on average, have a somewhat smooth texture.
Sake often has a higher ABV than beer and wine, ranging from 18 to 20 percent on average. Although the ABV might vary depending on the brewery and the style of sake, most consumers should anticipate an ABV of at least 18%.
If sake is diluted with water, its ABV might go to 15%. Naturally, the undiluted beverage will be more concentrated in alcohol. To find out the precise values for your particular product, check the bottle’s back.
Storing Sake The Right Way
Here are some helpful hints for storing sake: Keep an unopened or opened bottle of sake away from direct sunlight. Within a few hours, UV and heat exposure can have a significant impact on the quality and flavor of the sake.
Sake can be warmed in a double heating vessel, similar to how chocolate is warmed in a double boiler. However, if sake is boiled, it loses all of its flavor and delicate aromas.
You can lightly warm it if you want to serve it warm (which is ideal for the winter season). Two containers are used to heat it indirectly. One person holds the sake while the other boils water around it until it is sufficiently warm.
Keep the sake away from strong-smelling items and at 40°F in the back of the fridge. Sake is well-known for absorbing the scent and flavor of more fragrant components. As a result, the bottle must be firmly sealed to avoid air exposure.
Always serve sake from a conventional sake set. These containers are built of high-quality ceramic or other composite materials that can keep beverages cold for lengthy periods of time. A decent sake set may be found here!
Sake is a superior rice wine with a subtle yet quite agreeable flavor. Now that you know how to keep opened and unopened sake bottles, here are some additional questions.
Can Sake Be Stored In The Freezer?
In contrast to other alcoholic beverages, sake doesn’t need to be chilled because its higher alcohol level naturally prevents the growth of microorganisms. Nonetheless, sake in a bottle might be frozen without much difficulty. However, we don’t advise doing this because it would drastically alter the taste and consistency of the drink.
Much molecular damage will be done during the thawing process of frozen sake. That can ruin the drink’s subtle scent and flavor.
Can Sake Be Used To Make Cocktails?
It’s true that sake is a versatile cocktail ingredient. To complement its mild and sweet taste, it is used in a wide variety of dishes. Since sake makes such a great foundation, we urge you to experiment with various flavors and concoctions.