Become a saké sommelier

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It’s back to work and, like many others, you might be reconsidering what you are doing with your life and, especially, your job. Is it time to find a new one, perhaps to branch out and finally take on the challenge that has been rattling inside your head for most of your working life.

Here’s a rather unusual opportunity.

Following in the footsteps of England, China and Norway, France is the fourth nation to receive a diploma course… in the making of Japanese saké. The Saké Sommelier Association, a leading organization in Europe in the field, will hold a two-day training course in France in St Etienne. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the art of tasting and mastering this complex and sophisticated drink, which remains mysterious to westerners and is often confused with Chinese saké.

Japanese saké differs from its Chinese namesake – the latter is a strong alcohol, distilled and offered as a digestive after meals in Asian restaurants. Japanese saké, however, is a drink made from the fermentation of rice. It is has an alcohol content of between 13° and 16° and is drunk throughout the meal or as an aperitif or digestive. It can be enjoyed in varying temperatures, usually between 5° and 55°C.

The master brewer of saké is called the Toji. Many criteria are taken into account in the process: the type of rice, water and kojikin (yeast which converts the starch to sugar) used. Then there’s the percentage of polishing in the rice grain, immersion time in water and cooking time with steam. After these crucial steps, the real talent of the brewer comes into play when he refines and personalizes his brew.

After two days of tasting and analyzing, no fewer than 20 sakes, participants will be tested on their newly acquired knowledge and will receive the official diploma SSA Sake Sommelier if they pass the exam. The association says that the degree provides job opportunities in fine restaurants around the world and also the opportunity to compete for the prize of ‘Sake Sommelier of the Year’.

The course is open to professionals and amateurs.

Deadline for registration: September 24, 2013.

Course dates: 29 and 30 September

www.sakesommelierassociation.com