Nov 30, 2010

Pleasure of warmed sake

Lately, it seems that sake is gaining in popularity outside Japan. I sometimes read blog articles about sake written by non-Japanese people. Reading such articles, I think that they tend to prefer ginjo sake, junmai sake, and other premium types of sake to regular sake and other low-priced sake types. This is probably because, in other countries, sake is not so popular as in Japan, they do not conceive it to be a beverage consumed on a daily basis, and they may think sake is something special and it should be enjoyed with sashimi or tempura in a fancy Japanese-style restaurant. Of course, it is a nice way to enjoy sake, and I don't deny it, though.

Needless to say, sake is an alcoholic beverage Japanese people have been drinking since old days. It have been drunk in ritualistic scenes such as wedding ceremonies, funerals, religious festivals, etc. Maybe I can say that, for Japanese people, sake is a part of their life. However, people can't afford high-end sake such as ginjo sake as a daily drink.

When people call it a day and then go back their own houses, they drink sake while feeling tiredness as an evidence of their satisfactory hard work. Looking back on the day or increasing their motivation for tomorrow's work, they drink sake in a relaxing mood. This has probably been a typical way of banshaku, or evening drink, for many of the Japanese. I guess they have been drinking sake in this manner on a daily basis since the Edo era or maybe earlier.

In my opinion, non-Japanese people would be able to have a wider range of opportunities to enjoy sake if low-priced table sake including futsushu (regular sake), which can be drunk on a daily basis casually at home, gains in popularity as widely as sake drunk during formal dinners or sake paired with decent Japanese foods.

As I thought in the way above, I am trying to introduce kanzake (warmed sake) to people in the world because kanzake is one of the casual ways of drinking sake, and usually people warm relatively low-priced sake to make kanzake (high-end sake tend to lose the balance of taste when warmed). And, here I provide the following movie:

The message of this move is "Boil some water in an electric pot, and place a flask filled with sake to warm it. This is an easy way to prepare kanzake, so I recommend this way to you!"

This movie seems to have a number of viewers from the United States and other countries. One viewer gave me a message to tell that he had even purchased an electric pot to use it for warming up sake. I am happy to receive such comments.

I want people in the world to know there are various ways of drinking sake. If you have never tried warmed sake, I want you to have a try.


Vinod V. said...

In the U.S., very little futsushu is imported (because of import tax laws concerning "added alcohol"), so I think it's more a matter of availability than popularity. There's also very little honjozo available, for the same reason.

A bigger problem is that the typical bottle of sake, at any level, is about double the price (or more) in the U.S. as it is in Japan. Other countries are even more expensive, so I'm not so surprised it isn't more popular here, yet.

いちべー said...

Vinod V.

Thank you for the comment. Your point is very important.

I know about the taxation system about added alcohol in the United States, and futsushu and honjozo are difficult to find there.
And, at any level, sake is expensive. Yes, this is a big problem.

I hope they can purchase sake at lower prices so that they can drink sake more often. And, I believe if the availability increases and the prices lowers, they become able to enjoy sake in more various ways.

By the way, since many of junmai sake are also good when warmed, they can still try kanzake. So, I also hope they enjoy kanzake especially in a cold season.

Will Auld said...


The cost point is important as you suggest. I know that often when talking about high quality sake we try to justify the price to remove this as a barrier. However, I balk at the price of sake and I know I like it. How much more those who are unsure.

いちべー said...

Will Auld,
Thank you for the comment.
I visited your Web site and leaned you are selling sake home brewing kits. Hey, this is amazing! With such a kit, they can learn how sake is made more rightly in the United States than in Japan.

Zen said...

Here in Northern Ca we have Japanese Sake made local. It is very reasonable, in fact inexpensive and good. We buy the large size to have it around.

いちべー said...

Thank you for the comment.
It is very good you have a sake brewery there because you can enjoy fresh sake including namazake (non-pasteurized sake).

Zen said...

Yokatta sou ne!

Hotspring Addict said...

Most of my American friends start drinking hot sake before discovering the joy of drinking cold sake. In California, there are a number of cheap sakes available.