(Monologue) I am a qualified Kiki-sake-shi… So I should learn sake trying various bottles!
Saki: Can I have “Atago no matsu“? *One of popular sake brands
(Monologue) OUCH! I just emptied my glass without thinking… I should take notes about flavor of each sake…
Saki: Can I have “Ju-yon dai“? *One of popular sake brands
(Description) INFINITE LOOP
When I introduce myself as a qualified Kiki-sake-shi (sake sommelier),” people are surprised and impressed. However, most of them don’t know what Kiki-sake-shi can do.
“Kiki-sake (唎酒)” means tasting sake and “shi (師)” means an expert in Japanese. This title seems kind of traditional for Japanese, but some call this qualification as “sake sommelier (日本酒ソムリエ)” because it is easier to understand.
Kiki-sake-shi is a qualification for people working for food-service industry. S/he is a professional to offer services that let guests enjoy food and sake.
The skill and ability are different from person to person, but I believe every Kiki-sake-shi has at least the following four skills in common.
- Providing sake in the best condition
“Kiki-sake” means assessing the quality of sake. In the process of getting qualification, applicants practice tasting in order to get a skill to find a off-flavor. They also learn how to preserve sake to keep its good condition.
- Understanding flavor of each bottle and paring it with food
SSI, the organization that provides the qualification of Kiki-sake-shi, divides flavor of sake into four types. Kiki-sake-shi can find which type each sake corresponds with. (Though it is the most popular classification method in the Japanese sake industry, not all sake professionals use this).
Each type of sake goes well with different food, so Kiki-sake-shi knows what kind of food s/he should pair with each sake.
- Explaining the difference of flavor between bottles skillfully
There is a little information on the label of the sake bottle because there are some restrictions by law. One of Kiki-sake-shi’s important jobs is to explain the flavor for guests.
How to express the flavor depends on the person: however, I personally feel the way of explanation following wine sommelier is a little elusive for Japanese culture.
- Explaining the brewing process and history of sake
Kiki-sake-shi understands how to brew sake and its history as basic knowledge.
Those are what Kiki-sake-shi can master on the process of getting the qualification. How s/he improves his/her ability besides these skills depends on each person.
I never thought I would work for the food-service business when I challenged this qualification. I became Kiki-sake-shi just because I loved nothing but alcohol…
Though I have a lot of tips about sake, I tend to spend my own drinking time without referring expertise. I believe that too much explanation can exert a negative effect: people feel uncomfortable if professionals tell a lot of complicated information. We have to let people feel intimate and love sake.
I would like to tell various kinds of information here with a policy—“Anyone can enjoy sake freely!” You drink sake not with your brain but with your body. Don’t think! Feel!