4 merits of drinking sake in a wineglass

Greetings Sake Lovers,

Have you ever tried sake in a wine glass?
It’s a question that would probably illicit a similar response in Japan, regardless of who you ask: ‘hang on? don’t you mean Ochoko?’, the defacto traditional drinking vessel of choice for sake. But contrary to that natural assumption, sake actually performs just as well in a wine glass as it does in any other type of receptacle. In fact, there are lots of merits to the experience.

We have narrowed them down to 4 of the most rewarding.

A Longer Lasting Nose

Because the wineglass is taller it tends to trap aromas better than the Ochoko, enabling you to savour them for longer. In the Ochoko, subtle aromas in particular often escape before it is possible to appreciate them; this is not a problem in the wine glass. Of course, the sakes of today boast a much richer fresco of aromas to begin with. It’s hard to imagine this drinking style having have ever caught on in the past. If you need proof that sake in a wineglass is a thing, you need look no further than the tasting competitions where this is the sommelier’s weapon of choice. Anything less is to be ill-equipped for the task at hand.

The Reveal

It’s the same with wine, but each sake’s aesthetic presentation is subtly different: from sakes that are colourless and clear to sakes with faint yellow hues, lemon coloured tints, barley hues, golden hues, amber hues; some sakes have a cloudy or muddy appearance; or in the case of the Doburoku styles, an almost Risotto-like coat of white; there are so many varieties out there to discover. And there is no better magnifying glass with which to discover them than the wine glass. A transparent glass will of course allow you see this best.

A More Pronounced Flavour Experience

white wine splashing on white background
Simply moving your sake out of the Ochoko into a wineglass may unlock a flavour potential that is clear to anyone whether their taste buds are firing on all cylinders or not. A lot of people will happily admit that they had not realised sake was such a sophisticated beverage until they had made this leap. You would be forgiven for wondering whether it was in fact sake that the wine glass was designed for all along.

An Air of Sophistication.

In a wine glass, it’s got to be chilled sake; the type of sake that cuts an exquisite, cool figure that makes the hand holding the glass appear stylish, fashionable and elegant. It’s the sort of look that makes you stand out at a dinner party and there is no need to shy away from the table, because sake in a wine glass is compatible with not just Japanese food but a variety of cuisine. The wine glass is your accessory for cool.

Types to Try in a Wine Glass?


Junmai – A portrayal of all the savoury goodness of the rice

Sake is made from rice. Ergo, it only seems natural that there is a sake to show off its qualities. And that folks, is the Junmai. This one has just got to be tried in the wine glass to be believed. Thanks to the sleek aperture of the wine glass, the sake effortlessly glides on to the tongue guiding you into a gentle yet UMAMI rich taste experience.

Daiginjo & Ginjo – It’s All in the Nose!

Drinking these highly fragrant types in a wine glass is like poking your snout into a fruit basket of banana, apple, white peach and pear aromas. Aromas tend to congregate on the inside of the glass, something that is not possible with a smaller more compact type of receptacle. As the sake airs, it will release more of its aromas; try giving the glass a twirl or two to speed up the process.

Namas – A Fresher Brew

Perhaps this one is a no brainer for all you wine buffs out there, but the wine glass delivers a much fresher experience, especially if the sake is in a nama (unpasteurised) state. The effect is like that achieved with white wine. This way of serving gives you a lighter, fresher, all together more youthful sake. Furthermore, Namas that have received a spot of ageing like the ones aged throughout the summer and released in the Autumn produce a better spread when drunk this way.

Sparkling – Sake’s Answer to Light Champagne

Sparkling sake made by trapping the natural gases of a second fermentation inside the bottle are very similar in style to light Champagne and equally as delicious in a wine glass. Live yeast cells produce a fresh, relaxed flavour.

When in Rome

Overseas, in the places like England and France, sake is gaining popular among wine buffs who like to drink their sake in a wine glass. It no exagerration to say that the wine glass has made sake much more accessible to these kinds of people. Although it might be a bit of a surprise in Japan, it is normal practice to serve sake in a wine glass at 90% of Western restaurants there. Sake is also being paired with a variety of cuisine, not just Japanese, not just sushi. In Britain, pairings such as curry and sake; steak and sake; roast chicken and sake; even fish and chips and sake have all been tried and tested and proved to be an impressive match.

Yearly “Fine Wine Awards”

Starting in 2011, Japan now holds its very own awards to assess how well certain sakes perform in a wine glass as opposed to other types of vessel. Every year, the awards receive over 300 entries from 200 breweries across Japan.

This year, our purchaser Mr.Aoto was invited along to the awards to help judge. You can read more about his experience in this past article. 

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An Exclusive Sake Glass from RIEDEL

Among wine buffs everywhere it needs no introduction — with over 250 years of wine glass making history under its belt, Riedel is the number one wine glass manufacturer in the world and whats more, they have just added an exclusive sake glass to their portfolio. They have joined forces with the brewers themselves to produce this, a sake glass in which sakes (in particular Daiginjo) have a stage to shine. The final design was selected from a selection of over 100 different samples, through a tasting by a panel of brewers and sake experts before receiving some last finishing touches. The oblong bowl shape of the glass lends the sake with a youthful, fruity aroma and relaxing after taste.

The Best News of All!

KURAND SAKE MARKETAnd the best news of all is that we have just added a wine glass of our own to the diverse selection of glassware you can use at KURAND to sample our 100 different sakes.
The whole experience at KURAND just became even more sophisticated!