Cool sake cups, carafes, and service vessels illuminate the sake experience. More and more types and styles become apparent as one's sake discovery journey evolves. We've put together this quick guide to help you find your new favourite cup.
The Sakazuki Cup
Sakazuki Sake Cup
Literature on this particular sake cup or sakazuki can be found as early as 927 AD in the Engishiki (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers). The sakazuki shaped vessel was initially made to serve soup and rice and was not intended for only drinking sake. However, it is used in traditional scenes such as Otoso (spiced sake drunk during New Year celebrations) or san-san-ku-do (a custom in Shinto-style wedding ceremonies).
On the nose. As the liquid surface area is close to the nose, the aroma can be felt as strong; however, the stimulative alcohol evaporation makes it challenging to capture a balanced aroma.
On the palate. Perception of sweetness is enhanced. By facing down onto the sakazuki, the drinker can taste a wide liquid surface on the tip of the tongue.
The Choko Cup
Ochoko Cups wit Tokkuri Carafe
While the sakazuki is flat oval-shaped like a saucer, the choko is cylindrical and comes in a variety of shapes-round, square, hexagonal, octagonal or elliptical. Originally designed as a cooking vessel, it came to be used as tableware for serving sake and soba noodles in the mid-Edo era. It is often used with a tokkuri.
You may come across the term "ochoko" referring to choko cups. The "o" in "ochoko" is an honorific prefix, and the "choko" describes a small vessel that you can empty in one gulp.
Since the liquid surface area is small, and there is limited space to contain aromatic substances, the impression of the aromas will be mild. Therefore, we recommend you use it with less aromatic sakes like junmai or hot sake.
The Guinomi Cup
The Guinomi Sake Cup
The name comes from the Japanese onomatopoeic expression for "gulping" or "grabbing a drink." A guinomi is somewhat bigger than a choko cup, but no particular rules for size exist. While choko is filled from a kettle or tokkuri, guinomi is often filled directly from the bottle. The tasting characteristics are similar to those of a choko cup.
The Masu Cup
Usually made of Japanese cedar or cypress wood, the masu was initially designed for measuring various volumes of rice. The ichi-go size masu (180ml) is the one often used for drinking sake. Although commonly sipped from the corner of the vessel, the formal style is to sip from the straight side, a rather delicate task!
Sake Cup In Masu
Sake cup in wooden masu cup
Used mainly for serving cold sake, the capacity of a cup is usually 180ml. The cup is often placed in a wooden squared recipient called a "masu", and the tradition is to directly pour from a 1.8L bottle until it spills over from the rim of the glass into the "masu" cup; therefore showing generosity and creating a welcoming feeling.
The Kiriko Glass
Pair of Kiriko Glasses
Edo Kiriko is a type of glasswork believed to have originated in the Nihonbashi neighbourhood of Edo (the old name for Tokyo) during the late Edo Period, boasting over 180 years of history. Patterns are carved into the surface of the multi-layered glass so that users can enjoy both transparency and beauty.
The delicate beauty and high quality of Edo Kiriko glasswork made it one of Tokyo's traditional crafts in 1985, and one of Japan's traditional crafts in 2002.
The Wine Glass
Increasingly popular in the sake world and a true house staple, the wine glass offers many benefits when enjoying sake. As with wine, the narrow rim tends to capture and lock aroma components within the bowl; making it the ideal glassware to enjoy the fragrant aromas of premium sake. The straighter the bowl curvature, the more straightforward and less distinct the aromas will be.
A Riesling glass is ideal for fruity and floral sake such as ginjo and daiginjo. Best enjoyed chilled, the stem ensures you are not heating the content of your glass throughout your meal or aperitif.
A stemless wine glass, on the other hand, is ideal for junmai, kimoto and yamahai sakes as they are better enjoyed at room temperature or slightly warm. Your hand would gently transfer heat and keep your sake warm, opening up its aromas and flavours.
We hope you've enjoyed this short guide :)
Why not get yourself your own sake cups made in Japan and enjoy your favourite sake with them!
The Sorakami Team