Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Saké Terminology

There is a rich vocabulary in Japanese that revolves around Saké. In some respects, the terminology is even more detailed that what exists in English to describe wine. I have already provided a number of Saké terms in my previous posts this month. But here is a partial list of some additional Saké related terms.

Izakaya: A Saké bar. Izakaya also serve food and used to be the place working men in Japan would go for a drink after work. Nowadays there are many more Izakaya, or all different types. Izakaya are also sometimes called akachochin (which means "red lantern"). This is because you often find red paper lanterns in front of izakaya.

Sakaya: A Saké store. Though more literally it can be any store that sells Saké.

There are numerous terms used to refer to the temperature of Saké. English does not really have specific terms to refer to the serving temperatures of wine.

--Kanzake: This refers to heated Saké in general. It may also be referred to as O-kan, a slightly honorific term.
--Nurukan: Warm Saké
--Atsukan: Very hot Saké
--Jo-on: Room temperature Saké
--Hiyazake or Reishu: Chilled Saké

There are also various terms to refer to the different styles of Saké.

--Karakuchi: Dry Saké
--Amakuchi: Sweet Saké
--Hojub: Richer Saké
--Nigiyaka: Lively Saké
--Omoi: Heavy Saké
--Karui: Light Saké
--Tanrei: Lighter Saké
--Marumi ga aru: Well-rounded Saké
--Shibui: Astringent Saké

Kaori: The fragrance of Saké, equivalent to the "nose" in wine.
Ato-aji: Aftertaste

And finally, here are two more important Saké terms.

Umai: Good or delicious Saké. A nice compliment for a Saké you enjoy.

Yake-zake: This is drinking to get drunk. Not just a couple glasses of Saké. This is when bottle after bottle gets emptied until you stagger home.

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