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Today it’s the turn of a weather site, Tenki, to serve up some thoughts not so much on what you drink as what you drink it from.

Musing on the warm spring weather bringing lots of hanami flower viewing and other parties, and plenty of appearances by sake and other drinks, it also repeats a reported observation I’ve seen elsewhere – that people start with beer and move on to sake later. 

(Going up the alcohol content curve?) It then puts a resurgence in the popularity of sake, both inside and outside Japan, down to brewers of famous labels such as Dassai.

The article starts off by looking into the differences between two drinking vessels: ochoko and guinomi. Reminding readers that the vessel influences the taste of sake, and also that sake is (relatively) high in alcohol and so won’t be drunk out of something the size of beer mug, hence the natural choice of the ochoko with its average capacity of 45 ml. The guinomi incorporates the onomatopoeic word gui, which in the expression guigui means to gulp or drink lots and quickly, indicating that it has a larger capacity. 

There isn’t just size to think about, however, as sake‘s sensitivity to temperatures means that the vessel’s effect on cooling also needs to be taken into consideration. 

The next thing the article points out is that there are different materials used to make the drinking vessels, such as tin, glass and wood. The taste of sake is supposed to get rounder when drunk from a tin vessel, and tin has a photocatalytic effect that decomposes fusel oil, a component that causes zatsumi (off-flavours). Glass does not have any smell or taste, so does not impact the qualities of the sake. Sharp sake is said to lose some of its qualities depending on the vessel, but this doesn’t happen with glass. Wood has its own particular flavour, so people tend to either love or hate wooden containers. It’s also said to soften the aroma of sake which some drinkers may prefer.

The last tip is about the cobalt blue ja-no-me (snake eye) design at the base of the cup – used by professional kikizake tasters to evaluate the clarity of a sake as any haziness will show up against the vibrant blue.