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The 4th World Sake Sommelier Competition

Advancing The Profession, Advancing Distinction, Advancing Business


Reigning as champion was Yasuyuki Kitahara, sommelier at Conrad Tokyo Hotel
(front row, third from left)

Eager contestants arrived from all over Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the US, twenty five in all, at the 4TH WORLD SAKE SOMMELEIR COMPETITION which is the one and only Sake Sommelier contest in the world, sponsored by Sake Service Institute or SSI, the largest organization of Sake Sommelier certification in Japan.  Selected through regional heats, they met for the final match at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Iidabashi, Tokyo on September 19th to the 20th.


Sake professionals exhibit knowledge, skill, and personal passion to vie for the world’s best at this year’s contest

The event was part of their Future of Sake campaign to commemorate their 25th anniversary.  As sanctioned by SSI, Sake School of America ran the US regional contest, sending a delegation of three talented Sake professionals:  Aya Nomoto of Las Vegas, Bradley Smith of Chicago, and Jamie Graves of New York.

With the Sake sommelier population now exceeding 33,500, there’s an elite group of young Sake specialists emerging as Sake emissaries to the world, delivering goodwill at a highly professional level.  And as Wa-Shoku rises to garner international acclaim, Sake specialists are now appreciably becoming well-regard by food and wine industry professionals.  No doubt, the influence that these Sake and Shochu experts exercise will further magnify value and enjoyment to the Japanese cuisine dining experience.


TASTING: A private, 10-minutes’ tasting of four products, and a food menu preview, leading to the next step.
TABLE SERVICE SIMULATION:  With the aforementioned previewed, recommend the brew to complement each guests’ chosen dishes.  Sommelier techniques and quality of services are judged.
PRESENTATION / Q&A:  Oral thesis presentation on “As a Sake sommelier, what can you do to positively advance the future of Sake and Shochu?”


This is a high-level competition, ranked along top wine sommelier competitions. Contestants perform their rigorous required tasks under the keen eyes of the seasoned judges.


BLIND TASTING:  One product evaluation covering TPO, food pairing, serving temperature, and servingware.
TABLE SERVICE SIMULATION:  Given a menu choice of only scallops or Nagoya Kochin, guide guests through an ultimate dining and drinking experience. This is the ultimate test of knowledge, skill, experience, and the understanding of Japanese Omotenashi.
PERSONAL SUMMATION:  Presentation on “As a Sake sommelier, how would you actively promote Sake and Shochu to the world?”

141101-1Jamie Graves, General Manger at New York’s highly popular Sakamai Izakaya, stages his expertise to earn the Special Judges’ Recognition Award.



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