Sake Step by Step: New Intro Course Builds Broader Appreciation
Updated: Mar 15
Making Sake as easy to enjoy as a glass of wine or beer or a sip of Scotch is something we aspire to achieve at Dreadnought Wines and Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits. Making advanced Sake education just as easy and impactful is the goal of a new course offering and revised sequence of courses.
As an instructor, I’ve tangled with precisely how to do this for a while now - how to give students a solid foundation of technical and cultural education, while also being mindful of the time commitment and expense involved with in-depth study. I think I’ve landed in the perfect place with the following sequence of courses offered at Palate Partners beginning later this month:
The Introductory Course from the Sake Sommelier Association (3 hour course): This course introduces you to Sake and how it fits into Japanese culture along with the basics of how Sake is made. With Sake, the unique and intricate Japanese culture behind the beverage is very important, seemingly more so than with other beverages and spirits. I could of course debate that and probably conclude that culture is equally important to other beverages, we just don’t focus on it as much.
That said, there are distinct differences to be aware of between this new course from the Sake Sommelier Association and the WSET Level 1 Award in Sake Course.
WSET Level 3 Award in Sake (Several weeks long):
This course is all meat and potatoes (maybe rice). This is the technical side of it all. Level 3 takes you into a deep dive on how sake is made from how the rice is grown to how the rice is processed, and how the delicate balance of parallel fermentation works to reading the label (yes, you must learn some kanji). An extensive focus on tasting is also included. This is where you begin to understand the why and when of it all. The test includes multiple choice questions, short essay questions and a blind tasting.
Certified Sake Sommelier Association Course (Several sessions): Working with the knowledge from WSET level 3, the focus is back to the culture of Japan and sake. Students now begin to learn the culture of the brewery and the workers in the brewery, all while refreshing their knowledge of how sake is made. Students explore the celebratory aspect of Sake and how and when the different types are used. A further focus on tasting also happens in this course. The test is multiple choice and a tasting session.
Advanced Sake Sommelier Association Course (includes travel to Japan): This course requires a trip to Japan so that students can participate in a session working in a brewery and touring several others, all while fully experiencing the culture of Japan. (This course will resume when travel is allowed.)
Taking Sake courses in this sequence will give students both the cultural and technical education necessary to fully embrace Sake while achieving professional recognition for technical knowledge. Studying Sake has provided me with a different approach to studies of other beverages. It has helped me understand certain aspects of spirts and wine that I didn’t before.
As I continue progressing on my own beverage education journey, I can’t help but see how one builds on the other and increases my appreciation for each segment. Sake has made me look deeper into the purpose of things that I sip, so that I can more fully appreciate each beautiful and careful step that goes into their creation, no matter where in the world it is.
I invite you to join me on the journey. Kampai!