How to Store and Serve Sake

(Sake Section is sponsored by Vine Connections)

How to Store Sake

To properly store premium Japanese sake, you’ll want to follow the same rules as you store wine. Cool and dark is preferred. At home, I store Japanese sake in my small wine refrigerator in the kitchen or in our extra refrigerator in the garage. Because I live in hot, humid Florida, I don’t want to chance storing sake in a closet or under my bed (and we don’t have a cellar) because it’s just too damn hot and you never know when you lose power to a nasty tropical storm. If you have a fancy wine cellar, by all means, store your Japanese sake there.

You can store unopened sake bottles for about one year. Most sake doesn’t age well, unless it’s meant to be aged (rare, expensive and I’ve never personally tried aged sake)

How to Store Opened Sake Bottles

The great thing about sake is that once opened, it will last a couple of weeks if stored properly. Think of opened sake like milk. Keep it in the back of the refrigerator and it will last as long as milk generally lasts. I’m not saying that you’ll still get 100% aromas/flavors as when you first opened it, but kept like milk, your sake will still be good. And really, unless you’re a total lush or have lots of friends over, it’s really hard to drink an entire big bottle of sake. Which is why I like buying them in the smaller 300ml cute bottles. Remember the alcohol content for sake is around 15-16%…wine is 9-16% and beer is 3-8%. So a small amount of sake goes a long ways. Little sips, ladies, little sips.

How to Serve Sake

* Premium sake should always be served chilled, NEVER hot or at room temperature. Heating premium sake destroys its aromatics and flavors. * Some serve sake in a traditional masu (MAH-soo) a wooden box cup or ochoko (oh-CHO-koh) small ceramic cups, but no special glassware necessary. You can serve it in a small white wine glass, a sherry or dessert/cordial glass, or even in a martini glass (try a garnish, like a cucumber slice).

At some traditional Japanese restaurants, they’ll put the masu on a saucer and pour sake into the masu until it overflows. This is a sign of generosity and prosperity. BUT – I’ve always found it really annoying personally – I totally dislike wasting anything, especially booze. So, if the premium sake overflows into the saucer…do I drink the overflow too? How to gracefully sip the damn overflowed sake in the saucer?? One time I actually tipped the saucer to my lips and ended up dribbling it all over my shirt. SAKE FAIL.

I have a masu set that looks like this:


However, the unfinished wood definitely affects the flavor and aromas of delicate, premium sakes. There are also laquered masu, which is a neutral, protective coating on the wood. This allows you to fully experience the sake without the wood factor.


A more Western way to serve sake is to use shot glasses. Just as classy and definitely more accessible as most people have a set of shot glasses at home. And hey, I always believe that the smaller the portion, the more you cherish it. But the problem with a shot glass is that the surface area is small. So you know how you swirl wine to release its aromas? Ditto for sake. Try swirling it in a shot glass. Tsunami all over your shirt, baby.

And okay, so you’ve not seen any Japanese swirl sake in a wine glass? True. But it works. Try it. The swirling action gets more oxygen into the sake, which aerates the sake and allows for a better bouquet (or smell). Remember…Sake is brewed like beer but enjoyed like wine.


The best way to enjoy premium Japanese sake is to do a SAKE TASTING!!