Sake Sommelier Academy®  FAQ

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HQ Courses FAQ

As sake is more and more appreciated worldwide, the thirst for learning about it is growing and necessary for anybody working in hospitality and drinks retail.
There is a lot of information easily accessible online but that cannot replace a more formal education dispensed by a school like us.

Below we answer many of the questions we are often asked.


The Sake Sommelier Association (SSA) is the oldest sake education provider outside of Japan. For over 20 years we have been fully committed to promoting global education and awareness of sake across the globe. The Sake Sommelier Association has three pillars: Education, Competition and Challenge.
The Sake Sommelier Academy is the SSA’s Education pillar. Alongside our accredited partner schools, the Academy has reached tens of thousands of students, guiding them along the SSA learning path.
We are currently supporting over 30 franchises worldwide with more to come. The most important part of our network is for us to respect the local customs in our franchises region. While all educators are trained by the London HQ, we always put forward the importance of respecting the local customs and a course delivery that is in line with the unique style of our franchisees region.
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Nowadays there are many providers of sake education courses worldwide, but the Sake Sommelier Academy® is the first organisation starting to provide sake education in Europe and unique in many ways as it has been providing world-leading sake education for over 20 years. We are the only independent international authority for sake Sommelier® training. Our trainings are based on interactive workshops and other unique and exclusive tools.
Our bespoke courses offer an unmatched and complete curriculum: Introductory Sake Professional®, Certified Sake Sommelier®, Advanced Sake Sommelier® and Master Sake Sommelier®. Also, Master of Sake® is a unique qualification designed for students with the ambition to open their own brewery or become a sake brewer.

Find out more about our courses here: https://sakesommelieracademy.com/courses/

There are other schools and courses for learning about sake:

The Sake Service Institute (SSI), founded in 1991, and its international branch in 2010, is offering the International Kikisake-shi, which translate as “Sake Specialisthttps://intl-kikisakeshi.com/

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), founded in 1969, and started to offer the Level 1 & 3 Award in Sake in 2014. https://www.wsetglobal.com/qualifications?subject=Sake

The Japan Sommelier Association (JSA), founded in 1969 and in 2017 started to offer the Sake Diploma. https://www.sommelier.jp/exam/sake_en.html

We highly recommend you start with the Certified Sake Sommelier® course. Although WSET covers some topics we already teach, our course goes into many more subjects. Many of our Certified Sake Sommelier students, with years of experience working in hospitality and drink retail, take the Certified Sake Sommelier® course wishing to learn about the culture and true depth of sake. These students aim to both further their own understanding of sake and better expand others appreciation of it. We've also had quite a few students who have taken WSET Level 3 in Sake before (and other sake courses from other institutions), and they have always said that they are pleased to have joined our course because they have taken something new away that gives them new perspective for their career. So, from the feedback we've had from many, we believe the Certified Sake Sommelier® course is the best place to start your SSA education.
While we welcome all sake aficionados, we are the only organization mainly focused on Sommelier training. Our background is as Sommeliers with many decades of experience.

Introductory Sake Professional®

The Introductory Sake Professional® is a comprehensive and concise 2-hour course where you begin to learn sake history, production, etiquette, and tasting techniques with a variety of different sake.
You don’t need to have completed the Introductory Sake Professional® course first, but we do highly recommend people take it before the Certified Sake Sommelier® course as it can help you have a better understanding of what will be taught on the first day of the Certified Sake Sommelier® course. You may also find you have more technical questions or observations you would like to ask or get advice on during the Certified Sake Sommelier® course.

Certified Sake Sommelier®

The Certified Sake Sommelier® is the first, and only official Sake Sommelier® certification from the Sake Sommelier Association (UK base since 2000). This official certification was created and developed for specially designed for wine professionals. The Certified Sake Sommelier® is our flagship course and the most sought after for any serious professionals working in hospitality and retail. Our aim is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of sake, tasting, food pairings, and service abilities. Geared towards those who wish to work in the industry, students can rely on the expertise and experience of the SSA’s highly qualified educators. Successful participants will receive the official SSA certificate and a lapel pin marking them out as a Certified Sake Sommelier® as well as using the post-nominals, CSS.
Where course preparation is needed, this will be provided in the months ahead of the course in the form of a pre-study pack. Participants are advised to look through this and familiarise themselves with the contents.

All of our courses include sake tasting exercises. Those wishing to prepare may want to practice sampling a few different sakes ahead of the course; however, this is not a necessity as there will be plenty of opportunity to sample a wide variety of sake during the course.

The SSA has taken steps to offer the CSS in an online format. We have been working hard on making our online education as similar as possible to the live classes. Samples for the tasting component and other materials are posted to students. We have stuck to the classic format of the original course, offering unique and interactive experience.
It normally takes between 2 days and a week but please check with your local SSA franchise https://sakesommelieracademy.com/where-to-study/
The cost ranges from £500 to £700 depending on the country where the course takes place.
Please check with your local SSA franchise.
For London CSS participants only. If you can make it to our next Certified Sake Sommelier® Course in London or online, we can arrange an extra seat for the examination section and you will be able to retake your exam. There will be a £90 resit charge to do this. If you would like to retake the exam earlier, we may be able to arrange this for an extra charge.
Yes, you must have completed the Certified Sake Sommelier® course before joining the Advance Sake Sommelier® course, or you must be committed to taking the CSS course within a year after completing the Advanced.

If you have another qualification in sake education, we will consider you for the course as long as you can provide proof of certification. You must also complete and pass the SSA sake knowledge test. Please note, that as this is such a unique and exclusive course, we will prioritize Certified Sake Sommeliers. We highly advised you to take the Certified Sake Sommelier® course, not only to have a better chance of joining the course, but also because the in-depth knowledge of sake and its culture learned in the CSS course will help you get the most out of the Advanced Sake Sommelier course.

Advanced Sake Sommelier®

The Advanced Sake Sommelier® course offers a unique view of Japan, taking you into the very heart of sake production and culture. You will visit carefully handpicked sake breweries in stunning suburban villages and beautiful, traditional cities such as Kyoto. This educational course will allow you to see, touch, and feel the authentic sake making process under the guidance of Toji (a sake master). We offer an in-depth study of how the different climates, rice varieties, and unique qualities of each sake brewery and region create different methods of sake production. Successful participants will receive an Advanced Sake Sommelier® Certificate with an official stamp from each of the Sake breweries which they visited.
Yes, it is possible to join the Advanced Sake Sommelier course in this case, but please understand that priority will be given to those who have already passed the Certified Sake Sommelier course®.
This unique course takes place in the winter during the busy season of sake making.

Master Sake Sommelier®

The Master Sake Sommelier® is the world’s highest sake sommelier® qualification. By gaining this qualification you will be able to demonstrate that you have deepened your level of expertise in this field to the furthest extent and that your knowledge of sake service is of the highest standard. This rigorous, one day course consists of specialized modules. The Master Sake Sommelier® welcomes students of any highly sake trained background, not only SSA Alumni. The Master Sake Sommelier® covers the fine-points of sake etiquette, serving techniques, innovative food pairings and every intricacy of sake service, including the experience of serving in a restaurant scenario. A special focus is given to the art of buying and selling sake. Over 60 distinct kinds of sake will be tasted during the day. Examination runs throughout the day. Successful candidates will receive their Master Sake Sommelier® label pin and certificate as well as the right to use the post-nominals MSS.

Master of Sake®

The Master of Sake® course is an intense 2 months program and the first of its kind: offering a full, in brewery, education on how to become a sake brewer. Working with both traditional apprenticeships and high-level skills training, The Master of Sake is the perfect course to guide you into the hardest-to-access parts of Japan’s sake production industry. Successful participants will receive the Master of Sake® qualification along with the accompanying lapel pin. They will also be entitled to use the post-nominals, MOS.


All SSA courses except the Introductory Sake Professional® course contain examinations.

Certified Sake Sommelier®
Formal Examination on Day 2.
Pass grade 70%

Advanced Sake Sommelier®
An assessment will be on the last day of the course.
Pass grade 70%

Master Sake Sommelier®
There are several assessments and exercises throughout the course. The participant’s grade will be based on the formal examination and their overall performance.
Pass grade 70%

Master of Sake®
Intensive course of training during this 2-month program.
Pass grade 75%

Other Course-related Questions

All of our courses are taught in the language of the region in which they are provided, unless otherwise specified (always check with your Sake Educator® in advance of your course if you’re unsure). While some Japanese terms will be used in our courses, these will be explained and, where necessary, glossaries will be provided ahead of the course.
This is dependent on which Partner School you are studying with, please contact them directly.
The partner school you have registered with will be more than happy to answer this question. Please contact them directly.
This is dependent on which partner school you are studying with, please contact them directly.
Each of our partner schools will handle gift or gift cards differently so please contact them directly.

After the Course

Yes, all participants of our Introductory Sake Professional®, Certified Sake Sommelier®, Advanced Sake Sommelier®, Master Sake Sommelier® and Master of Sake® receive official certification from the Sake Sommelier Association.
Yes, all participants of the following courses; Certified Sake Sommelier®, Master Sake Sommelier® and Master of Sake® will receive official lapel pins from the Sake Sommelier Association.
This is dependent upon the country you took the course as your official certificate will be issued at the SSA London HQ. 3 weeks as a guidance. However please contact our partner school directly.
You can take part in our association’s other events, such as being a judge at the London & International Sake Challenges and competing in the Sake Sommelier of the Year® (which is open to all sake professionals, not just SSA graduates). You also have priority in joining our Advanced Sake Sommelier® course.
We advise all our students to taste as many sake as they can and to fine-tune their service skills in a practical setting. Our Sake Challenges are a great opportunity to taste an incredible variety of sake.
If you have experience working with sake and a passion for education we would love to hear from you. We provide our educator training online. You can apply to become a professional Sake Educator® by visiting us at https://sakesommelieracademy.com/franchises/
Our SSA Experiences provide a foray into the World of Sake. If you’re looking for local sake bars and breweries check out Sake Ninja® to find our accredited stops. Or, if Japan-based luxury travel sounds more appealing then book our Sake Star®. SSA Experiences are an adventure to remember!
Please reach out to us at info@sakesommelierassociation.com