Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS

Professional Sake Food Pairings
– Advanced –

Japanese cuisine may be the most common sake food pairing. However, many people are surprised at how easily sake pairs with other cuisines from around the world. The composition of sake makes it the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of flavors. From salty ham to sweet desserts, hot and cold, there is a sake that matches the flavor profile of many foods.

Why Pair Food with Sake?

The benefits of pairing sake with food are similar to those of wine.

  • Sake brings out the flavors in food.
  • Sake can be used to complement dishes.
  • Sake refreshes the palate.
  • Sake combined with food can create new flavors.

In particular, sake plays an important role in drawing out the umami from a dish. These benefits are the result of how well the sake is matched with the taste, texture, and aroma of the food. Therefore, a good understanding of the nature of the drink and the food is essential. In addition, understanding how the temperature affects the flavor of sake expands the possibilities of sake-food pairings.

Koji is the Key to Umami

The Temperature

The range of serving temperatures create a whole new dimension to beverage-food dynamics in sake pairing. The temperature affects the flavor profile of both the sake and the paired food. Therefore experts recommend trying a range of temperatures from chilled to heated when pairing a new sake.

Here is a summary of the general results between the serving temperature and characteristics of sake.

The effect of serving temperature on sake’s taste profile

5°C 45°C
Sweetness Less More
Acidity Fresh Round
Umami Less More
Bitterness Refreshing Round
Overall Flavor Sharp Wide
Aroma Intensity Less More
Fruity Aroma in Ginjo Features fresh fruits aroma Features ripe fruits aroma
Texture Dense Light

Above 55℃, the alcohol in sake starts stinging the tongue.
The characteristics above are ones contrasted to sake at 25℃.

Advanced Food Pairings

Professional Guide


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