I passed the First Sake Diploma exam yeah! This is a new accreditation that Japan Sommelier Association set up in hope of creating international standards in expressing sake. There are experts called Kikizakeshi in Japan for sake, like sommelier for wine. But they use numerical expression to explain the flavor and the taste of sake. That maybe work domestically, but as the demands of Sake is getting bigger internationally, a new way of expressing sake became necessary, especially for foreigners to understand better. Sake Diploma is to learn how to express the flavor and taste of sake and how to better match foods with it.
This accreditation became available at the timing when my company plan to export sake, so I felt like I must take the exam.
When I think back, I took Wine Expert exam in 2015, Rum Concierge in 2016 and Sake Diploma in 2017. That has been 3 consecutive years of study regarding alcohol. This must sounds like a real booze lover. Well not quite, because these accreditations are more about building up knowledge than getting strong in alcohol.
Its more about learning skills to be able to analyze alcohol. In order to be able to tell the difference, you need to have knowledge about the raw material ( grapes or sugar cane or rice), the technique used to make the product, histories, geography and so on which was all in nearly 300 pages thick text book. I had to study as hard as to memorize them all, and considering my age, I think I did a good job.
The Wine Expert exam had been very challenging mainly because French is not my favorite language and there were so much to memorize. Wine is made in all over the globe now which means you need to cover not only the major wine countries like French, Italy, Germany but also the new world like USA, Australia, Spain, Chili, Argentina (Spanish speaking regions were confusing) and on top of that we need to study about Japanese wine which has been getting a lot of attention. I thought my brain would melt because of over heat. So compare to wine expert, Sake Diploma felt less challenging because it is all in Japanese, and I am already familiar with the geography and history of this country. In fact, I enjoyed learning about how sake is made and its history. It was refreshing to learn about how to better match sake with food. The writing exam was not so difficult but the tasting exam was harder than most of us expected. Many who took the exam felt there was not enough time to taste and analyze all 6 beverages in the glass. I guess I was lucky that I passed this exam and I think I am done torturing my brain for a while now..