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Kikizake – The Art of Tasting Sake

kikizake - art of sake tasting


Kikizake – or sake tasting – is the term for tasting sake, from its colour to the final after-taste.

Usually when you go to a sake bar, you will have the choice to choose your sake by region and they often serve it at room temperature, but sometimes you can also find sake tasting with chilled sake (reishu kiki) or warmed up sake (kanshu kiki). 

Sake bartenders will serve you a set of sake into tasting cups (kiki choko). It is visually very interesting and good for taking pictures!
You can first see the different colours inside each cup. 

Sake - Kikizake

Now it’s time to check the colour and transparency of the sake.
Some sakes have very nice colour like the picture above while many others look like still water.

After that, check the aromas rising from the surface, just bring the cup to your nose and try to feel the top notes. It could be fruity, floral, nutty, earthy etc.

If you try a ginjo sake, you will recognize its typical clean and fruity aroma such as riped tropical fruits like bananas, melons, or pineapples.


sake tasting set

In the picture above, you can see the name of each sake, its grade and the sake SMV.
They also serve you water to reset your palate each you drink. 

tasting set sake - kyoto

Time for tasting now!
Take a small sip into your mouth, breathe with your nose and analyze the flavour inside your mouth (hikikomi ka).

Now, you need to check if it’s a dry or sweet sake and the balance of flavour.
Move the sake with your tongue to the left and right, and to the front and back. Just a few seconds is alright!

You can finally spit it out into a spittoon, and evaluate the after-taste

How was it? How many sake bars have you try yet? 
Do you have any recommendations? 

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