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As an enthusiast who’s a retired IT person I’m often looking for ways to challenge my mind in retirement. Having completed my WSET Level 3 Award in Wines, Spanish Wine Scholar and the French Wine Scholar, I was looking for a course in the wine and spirits world that was a bit different. That’s how I settled on the WSET Level 1 Award in Sake.

I’ve been a casual drinker of sake over the years and was always intrigued by how it was made. I found the WSET Level 1 Award in Sake was able to answer that question and so much more. It was so interesting to learn about the processes used to make various types of sake, many of which have the same characteristics of wine making but also some characteristics of spirit making as well; especially the need to create enzymes to break down the starch in rice into sugar for fermentation.

The WSET Level 1 Award in Sake course gave me a pretty complete picture of the sake making process but it also made me understand that it’s just the tip of the iceberg for a centuries old practice that is steeped in tradition. I now feel confident in knowing how sake is made, the various categories and grades of sake, how to store it, how to pair it with food, and which ones to serve cool vs. warm (I used to think all sakes were served warm!).

I even had to learn some kanji (there were 3 kanji questions on my exam)! I used to think sake all tasted similar but did I ever get a surprise when I did some of the recommended tastings and tried them both cold and warm. My next dinner party will definitely feature a sake pairing.