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How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 03:58
Seeing various anime series and movies with characters drinking several glasses of sake, I keep wondering, actually how strong is sake? Compared to say red wine or so.

If I drink a glass of red wine I easly get a bit dizzy so drinking two or three glasses would be a maximum (but never done so far).

I would want to try sake some day but as I don't know how much I could take as I want to stay sober enough to take care of myself, especially as I travel alone most of the time.
by Pongo (guest)  

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 12:08
By law, the sake (日本酒) sold in Japan is at most 22°, though most is about 15°. Note that the taste is not always representative of the alcohol contents, as some sake are very sweet, which hides the alcohol flavor.

The alcohol contents of red wine varies roughly between 5° and 20°, depending on the climate of the production area and the production method.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 15:55
In general, sake has 2-3% more alcohol than red wine.

In general, it is served in slightly smaller measures.

You don’t have to finish your glass...
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 16:32
Most inexpensive sake (300ml for about 400-500yen) are about 15% alcohol. I've seen some "salaryman special" cans of 200ml are 19% alcohol and they pack the same punch as the 300ml bottles. On a relatively empty stomach, I can get a very nice buzz off either one of those. The buzz doesn't last very long though; I'm a heavy-set person, so it takes more to keep my buzz going.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 18:16
I think I tried some of the red wine bought in Family Mart or the like in Japan last time. Can't remember going very dizzy though, perhaps not the strongest brand though.

Is it possible to find smaller bottles of sake in convenience stores?

How long can I drink an opened bottle by the way before going bad?

by Pongo (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/25 19:01
I drank half a 720ml bottle one Saturday and finished the bottle 2 Saturdays later. The difference in taste was negligible.
by John B digs Japan rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/26 00:07
The reason you see those descriptions in anime is because drinking sake is the stereotype of low-down drinking. It's not as fancy as whiskey, not at all fancier than wine or cocktails, traditional than beer or chu-hai, and most of all there is a warmth in that sake atmosphere.

It is also the most typical alcoholic beverage offered at cheap bars in the alley. So just as an Englishman might drink his pint at a pub, a Japanese worker would go to the usual alley to drink his sake. And when a person is drinking sake from a glass as opposed to a tiny o-choushi, that means he wants to get drunk. Or he might be drinking at a street vendor who can only afford to keep glasses at his wagon. Sake is also easy to serve, because you don't have to serve anything else to mix it with, such as water of juice or ice.

But in fact, a lot of drinkers claim that sake is a type of liquor that kind of "suddenly kicks into you". And in fact, the long tradition of brewing has made its taste sophisticated. In other words, it's tasty for the price, it goes good with a lot of cheap great food, and it gets you drunk very very effectively. It is also great when served warm or even hot, so in winter it has a larger healing effect.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/26 01:33
You can get sake in combinis. Half bottles are common enough. You even get the "one cup" formats (something like 200 ml, I think?) - although they tend to be the cheaper stuff.

My view would be that if you're not a big drinker, then I'd look out on your travels for some nice(r), maybe local, sake that also comes in half bottles. Even a more expensive one won't break the bank.

Sake will suffer to some extent from exposure to oxygen, to heat, and also to sunlight...at least that's what a chemist or master of wine will tell you. If you're just talking about a few days, then unless you've got an amazing palate, I'd say that you probably won't notice any difference, or that any difference you notice will be slight.

Fresh sake (unfiltered, unpasteurised) will go "off" quicker than filtered, pasteurised sake. Higher alcohol sake will keep longer. But there's no real need to overthink this: sake is cheap. Buy small bottles, drink as much as you want, and put the rest aside. When you next want some, taste the stuff you put aside from before. If you don't like it, then ditch it and buy some more.

Or just have a glass with your meal somewhere and see if you like it.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/29 20:27
Some convenience stores have their own house brands of inexpensive sake. As an aside, sake can mean alcohol in general. Nihonshu (or Nihonshuu) is a better word for sake itself. You can get a small bottle/glass of either 20% or 25% alcohol house brand for dirt cheap at conbinis. Plenty of alcohol for a taste that's a lot smoother than vodka or gin. I love the Japanese version of the ever-festive boiler-maker -- a slug of sake followed by a big gulp of J-beer.

Many years (decades?) ago the Japan Sake Association used to have a tasting room in the Ginza. A few hundred yen for a small souvenir ceramic shot glass (not the correct nomenclature) and all the sake you wanted to sample (there was a limit, but nobody enforced it). What I disliked was that younger people liked cold sake, while I liked it warm to hot. The good news was that I could always snag a few souvenir shot glasses from the trash.

Around new years, aka-chochin (red lantern) bars would have a big straw barrel of fresh sake and give you a free wooden/bamboo square almost over-flowing cup of it, which you drank from one of the corners. I suppose the square wooden cup was a souvenir, as they never stopped me from taking one. You could then buy another slug or two of it, and I often did. Anyone who knows more than I do can feel free to bring up any corrections they might have.

I lived in Hawaii for a decade, and they had what I think was the only sake brewery in the USA at the time. They produced Takara Masume and Takara Masamune. Hardly a week went by when I didn't buy a bottle.

You can buy sake from vending machines in Japan.

Sake also comes in small wax containers, like milk. These are perfect for use in the USA for visiting places like Disneyland or Universal Studios, where alcohol is not allowed.
by Susan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/29 20:52
Nihonshu (or Nihonshuu)

No, not にほんしゅう.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/29 21:29
Just to add to Firas's post, the "20% or 25% alcohol" bottles are most likely "shochuu" instead of "nihonshu". They're not the same things as what we commonly call "sake".

Tasting rooms still exist all over Japan. The kind described by Susan just opened in Kawasaki Atre mall. But I find it quite disgusting that someone would "snag" shot glasses from the trash. All you have to do is to spend a few coins to buy one. I hope people who are mature enough to drink can try harder to maintain the good reputation of foreign residents/tourists in Japan.

Some sake are to be served cold, such as types called "ginjo" as well as "nama" sake which I suppose can be interpreted as "fresh sake". It will be disrespectful to the brewers to drink them heated. I've never seen a bamboo square for sake, but there is indeed a way to drink sake from a piece of green bamboo stalk (which is column shape).

These wooden or bamboo cups are not always provided to be taken home, but upon special events, such as anniversaries, the wooden ones would have the event's name printed on them so that guests can be free to take them home as souvenirs. I've never seen a bamboo cup to be taken home, but as opposed to the wooden squares that you can almost use forever, green bamboos soon turn yellow and crack so it's not really worth taking home. Plus bamboos grow too much, so you're not exactly helping the environment by reusing them.

What may seem like a straw barrel is a wooden barrel with a straw cover.

I didn't quite understand what Susan meant by sake in wax containers, but don't use them "in the USA for visiting places like Disneyland or Universal Studios, where alcohol is not allowed" because sake is alcohol, period. I hope people who are mature enough to drink can try harder to maintain the good reputation of American citizens in the USA.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: How strong is sake? 2018/4/30 18:53
In Tokyo - this place whci is right by Ryogoku station (so, very handy for has a standing up sake bar where you can taste sake by the (small) glass for between 200 and 400 yen a glass. It's quite amusing, as all the sakes are in vending machines - you pop in your coins, make your choice, and the machine dispenses a small serving directly into your cup.

Ideal for sampling two or three types, in small amounts...

https://www.tokyoweekender.com/2017/07/ryogoku-edo-noren/
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

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