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Is It A Wine? Is It A Spirit? Is It Beer?

It’s sake.


One of the delights of dining in a Japanese restaurant is the little, individual flagons of hot sake served with the meal, especially in winter. Sometimes the sake is really pretty awful, even to amateurs like us, but if it’s raining or snowing outside, it tastes pretty darn good.


New York City is home to Sakaya, the first premium sake shop and tasting bar located at 324 East 9th Street; Tel: 212-505-7253. We asked owner Hiroko Furukawa how sake is classified. She said it definitely is not a spirit but somewhere between a wine and a beer. It is a fermented grain (rice) but it is not distilled. Whatever. We like it.


Now Sakaya, which means “sake shop” in Japanese, is offering sake in a can from Kikusui Brewery in Japan. The trend is to serve premium sake chilled, not hot. It’s available for $9.00 a can and if you are not in New York City, it can be mail ordered via their web site, along with other sake products. Incidentally, a can of sake has 19% alcohol by volume compared with beer, which is around 5%.