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I have always loved learning about the many fascinating pockets of the world out there. I find that using wine and Japanese sake as a lens to explore these unique regions is the perfect conduit. While I teach a lot of sake courses and work in a Japanese restaurant with one of Canada’s largest sake programs, I am also hugely passionate about wine. Diploma was an opportunity for me to focus on wine for a couple of years.

I love to teach and have been teaching advanced level sake courses and mid-level wine courses for seven years, in addition to conducting seminars for the amazing staff at Ki. My pursuit of the the WSET Diploma is to enhance my knowledge and allow me to teach advanced level wine classes. The challenges of teaching advanced courses helps to enhance my knowledge.

I have been involved in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. Diploma formalized my knowledge on the many aspects of wine. Some of it was subject matter I already knew, but the course tackled some of it from different angles. I plan to stay surrounded by wine and sake for years to come (and maybe write more books!), and Diploma provides all kinds of benefits and limitless opportunities for my future.

Study tips:

Diploma is a beast of a course and I love challenges! What worked for me is setting aside a few blocks of time that stayed the same each week so that I could get into a ‘study rhythm’. Keeping a consistent schedule and not letting yourself break away from that schedule was important for me and a crucial part in passing the Diploma units on the first shot. In addition, I eschewed reading the latest Murakami novel for a subscription to wine magazines like Decanter. An important part of Diploma is writing about wine, through a research paper and structured answers during the theory exams, so reading articles on wine provided different author perspectives and even tasting notes to compliment the Diploma textbooks. I not only learned a lot about wine from reading wine articles but also how different wine writers express themselves when talking about it.

I have been considering taking WSET Diploma for more than a decade. The 2+ year commitment was the biggest obstacle. There never is going to be a perfect time to commit. Don’t wait to take this rewarding challenge if you are thinking about it! Just dive in now since it rewards you ten-fold. You will meet many like-minded people that will form a part of your wine community…a community filled with awesome wine people you will know for years to come.

Michael Tremblay DipWSET, Sake Samurai, Sommelier at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar is co-author of the book “Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth” (Tuttle Publishing, May 10, 2022). He is a Sake Judge for the International Wine Challenge and U.S. National Sake Appraisal.