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First UK sake sommelier exams set for London

The first professional sake sommelier qualifications in the UK will start this autumn in London.

Premium sake company Isake has joined forces with the Sake Sommelier Association to offer two courses: the one-day Sake Navigator Course and the two-day Certified Sake Sommelier Course.

Isake co-founder Xavier Chapelou, who also works as a sake sommelier at China Tang restaurant in The Dorchester Hotel, said the new courses reflected the growing interest in sake outside Japan.

‘But people are still a bit shy about sake,’ he told decanter.com. ‘They don’t understand it and really need more knowledge about it. We want to try to make sake more approachable – we want to make people passionate about it.’

The Sake Navigator Course offers a basic grounding in sake production, styles, labels, serving and storage, plus sake’s place in Japanese history and culture.

Meanwhile, the Certified Sake Sommelier Course also explores all major rice varieties, regions and food matching, accompanied by two tastings.

Students who pass the exam will become Certified Sake Sommeliers.

Chapelou said interest in the two-day course was strong, with responses from as far away as Sweden.

‘People in restaurants are now asking for Japanese sake – they want to drink it,’ he said. Early interest was sparked by Japanese restaurants like Zuma and Sumosan, but high-profile venues like The Fat Duck and Club Gascon were now serving sake too, Chapelou added.


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Written by Richard Woodard

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