Congratulations to Erika Nakaoji, SWS, for achieving highest honors in the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with Caplan Wine Academy.
I organize sake workshops for foreign residents in Tokyo. Participants learn the basics of sake, and enjoy sake tasting (and pairing with Japanese artisanal cheese!). Now I am preparing to offer Japanese wine sessions. I select sake, Japanese wine & cheese, as gift concierge for foreign residents. I am a certified wine lecturer by Japan Sommelier Association (JSA) for entry level, and an official judge of Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition.
I first knocked on the door of Académie du Vin in 2003, when I came back to the Tokyo office of an investment bank from expatriation in New York HQ. I just wanted to learn wine basics as a “hobby”, but eventually I went far beyond that… I obtained qualifications of JSA wine expert, WSET Level 3, cheese professional, Le Cordon Bleu cuisine diploma, Chinese tea artist, WSET Level 3 in Sake (with distinction), and JSA Sake Diploma International. When I lived in Melbourne in 2015, I obtained A+ Wine Australia, while in Hong Kong, I had many opportunities to go to wine trade fairs. Visiting wineries, sake breweries, whisky distillers, cheese farms in Japan and abroad became my favorite activities. So passionate about gastronomy, I switched my professional career from finance to good food guide.
As for Spain, I took a BA degree in Spanish studies in Tokyo, meanwhile I went to language school in Madrid and stayed with 2 Spanish families. I pursued a 2-year MBA in Barcelona (IESE) with a scholarship from the Government of Spain. I fell in love with food, arts, city, countryside, people of Spain, but its wines are complicated, because of the many indigenous grape varieties. So, I opted to learn in depth with SWS. I hope to have my shop in Spain someday, where local people can enjoy tasting of sake and wines from Japan. There I want to share my knowledge and passion with them. For this objective and dream, I believe understanding the wine culture of Spain is vital. I would like to take the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist.
SWS is good opportunity to learn, not only about wines, but also the unique wine “culture” in Spain, formed through its long history of mosaic of ethnic groups and religion, Age of Exploration, civil war, etc.