THE lure of sake has been described as ''1,000 years of culture and tradition in just one sip''. Top-quality sake is a subtle blend of high-grade Yamada-Nishiki and Koji rice, and clear mineral water. The drink's flavour has developed over the centuries to complement traditional Japanese food so each enhances the taste of the other. A drink for all occasions, sake was originally brewed as a sacred offering to the gods and today has earned its place in society as a popular tipple for mere mortals. The Japanese export sake to 67 countries, testimony to its popularity. Correct storage is important to maintain its quality and, above all, bottles should be kept out of direct sunlight, preferably in a cool, dark place. Sake has a mild taste that is nonetheless rich and invigorating; perfect for all seasons. It can be enjoyed chilled, warm or with ice. It has an alcoholic content of 16 per cent and is ideal for those watching their waistlines - it is low in calories and high in pleasure. The traditional way of serving sake is to warm it, kanzake style. In modern homes, the same result can be achieved by pouring the liquid into a tokkuri, a small porcelain server. This is then placed in a saucepan of hot water and heated for five minutes until it reaches between 38 Celsius to 49 C, depending on how the drinker prefers the wine. Japanese hospitality is intrinsically linked with the traditional way of pouring sake into a guest's cup. Tiny sakazuki that hold only a few mouthfuls of wine, often need refilling. If another's cup is empty it is customary to fill it up for them; in return your own cup will be filled. In this manner, gestures of friendship are established - and a congenial atmosphere created. However it is served, sake makes a light, refreshing drink.