Akane Niikura, 10, has passed the Sake Institute of Japan’s expert test even though she’s 10 years too young to even taste the traditional rice wine.
Akane was already considered a child prodigy in Japan, for her cooking skills, but now that she’s an official sake expert, her notoriety is expected to grow even more. Although it will be around 10 years before she is allowed to taste sake, the 10-year-old connoisseur can already tell what dish will complement a certain variety of sake, simply by smelling it and observing the way it clings to the glass. Her small nose proved so accurate an instrument that the Sake Institute of Japan had to acknowledge Akane Niikura as a sake expert, after she passed their tests without drinking a drop of rice wine.
As the daughter of a sake bar owner, Akane was always around different types of rice wines from various regions of Japan, and in time managed to tell them apart and learn what foods they best go with. After school, this amazing fourth-grader helps her mom in the bar by recommending sake to customers. Most of them seem pleased with her choices and that’s when the little girl feels happiest. When she grows up, she wants to be a sake bar owner, just like her mother.