One thing that you should understand about enjoying Japanese sake, is the temperature. Having sake with different temperatures is one of the attractions for enjoying them. Today, we would like to introduce you to Kanzake, which is warm Japanese sake (30℃ or warmer).
What is Kanzake?
Today, Japanese sake is often handled chilled or at room temperature, depending on production or storage method, but it was more common to have Kanzake (enjoying warm Sake) before refrigerators became popular.
With Kanzake, you can enjoy the aroma better than cold sake, and taste the presence of rice, which is a basic ingredient of Sake. We recommend having a Junmaishu, which is a pure rice Sake made without added sugar or alcohol, for enjoying the aroma of rice. One of the characteristics of Kanzake is that it is much easier for your body to absorb alcohol when you drink warm sake close to body temperature, and you can adjust the amount of sake depending on your condition.
Each serving temperature has a distinct name, so it is much easier to understand each temperature.
30℃：Hinata-kan – It has a slight aroma
35℃：Hitohada-kan – It is close to body temperature, and has a smooth taste.
40℃: Nuru-kan – Aroma and flavour spread in your mouth immediately (there are sake stores in Japan which specialize in Nuru-kan)
45℃：Jo-kan – It has a somewhat crisp finish
50℃：Atsu-kan – You can enjoy its aftertaste
55℃：Tobikiri-kan – It has a crisp finish and dry flavour
60℃：Achichi-kan – Very dry
Japanese people often refer to warm sake as Atsu-kan in general, but they often don’t even know that there are different names depending on the temperature.
How to make Kanzake
In order for you to make Kanzake at home, It is best to use Yusen method (otherwise in English: Bain-marie)
When you use Yusen method, you can enjoy how the flavour and aroma changes slowly, also you can prevent the deterioration of sake caused by volatilization.
Pour sake into Tokkuri (Tokkuri is a carafe for serving and heating sake)
Boil water in a pot
Turn off the heat and put the Tokkuri into the pot
Remove the Tokkuri when sake reaches your preferred temperature.
As a guide, it takes about a minute and 30 seconds for 30℃, 2 minutes for 40℃, and 3 minutes for 50℃.
Picture: making Atsu-kan by using Yusen method in an electric pot
Appetizers for Kanzake
Fermented foods or strongly flavoured dishes are more recommended for appetizers.
Especially, Ikanoshiokara (fermented squid with brown soy paste) , Ankimo (monkfish liver) and cheese go with Kanzake very well.
You can also enjoy it by changing appetizers depending on the seasons.
Simmered foods like Oden and Buri No Daikon (radish) are perfect appetizers for winter, and cold foods like Sashimi and marinated cream cheese with soya bring out the flavour of Kanzake even better in summer.