Sake sommelier and educator

Rod Walters of Knowledge Travel Partners is a Sake Sommelier and Educator accredited by the Sake Sommelier Association. In this role he’s conducted courses for people from around the world about sake. This has included classroom lessons in a catering school, and visits to sake breweries during brewing season. Rod has forged links with many breweries in Shikoku and can lead enjoyable educational tours of these fascinating and highly individualistic workplaces.

Rod with an Ehime sake brewer
Rod with an Ehime sake brewer
Rod leading a brewery tour
Rod leading a brewery tour
Teaching a class at a cookery school
Sake tasting at Sakura Uzumaki brewery
Sake tasting at Sakura Uzumaki brewery

Sake is an integral part of Japanese culinary culture, and the sake of each region has developed to complement the local food. To enjoy the food of Shikoku to the full, it’s important to have some sake with it. Ordering sake not only makes your meal taste better, it will make a favourable impression on your hosts too, and create an opening for conversation and friendship.

If you’re planning a group tour in Japan, learning about sake at the start can greatly enhance the gustatory aspect of the trip. In May 2017, a group of Canadians did a tour of the Seto Inland Sea by catamaran.  Rod was  invited to plan a sake-related component at the start of the tour.  On the catamaran, he gave a brief introduction of sake covering its history, brewing processes, comparison with wine and beer, and tasting tips. Then he led a visit to a brewery near the port, interpreting as the tōji or master brewer explained how sake is made. This was followed by a luxurious dinner with several kinds of sake, carefully selected to match the food and show the variety of types available.

Charter cruise sake dinner at Hokuto
Charter cruise sake dinner at Hokuto
An inspired choice of sake
An inspired choice of sake

After the cruise finished, the organizer had this to say,

“Thanks for your help in making it a success….educating them about sake on Day One turned out to be a master stroke…sake was their preferred beverage for the rest of the trip…”

A little bit of sake education helps to create instant sake fans, and learning something about sake is the start of a gustatory adventure that lasts during the stay in Shikoku and beyond.

The joy of sake at Sakura Uzumaki brewery
The joy of sake at Sakura Uzumaki brewery

Sake is also a valuable resource for MICE, particularly from the viewpoint of incentives and education. Participants enjoy exploring a new world of taste and culture, while learning about the craftsmanship behind Japanese hospitality and service. Sharing the discovery of sake also has a remarkable effect on forging group cohesiveness, which is an essential part of team-building.