The nation of Indonesia is spread over 17,000 islands and is home to a population of 273 million people. There has been a long-standing history of alcohol consumption and appreciation in the country, but more recently, wine and spirits education has been steadily growing in popularity.
This week we caught up with Widya, the first certified WSET educator in Indonesia, on her story, opportunities for women in her profession and education in the Indonesian drinks industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how your career started
My name is Ni Nyoman Kertawidyawati, but call me Widya. I live in Bali, Indonesia and am currently working at one of the first wineries in Indonesia: Hatten wines which has been producing wine for 28 years. I am both the Head of Corporate Training and Development and the Head of the Hatten Education Center. The Hatten Education Center became the first WSET approved programme provider in Indonesia in 2017.
Since the beginning of my professional career, I’ve worked in the hospitality industry, and eventually, I came across wine. I later became the president of the Indonesia Sommelier Association Bali Chapter and I am passionate about the development programme of the young sommeliers in the association.
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Could you pinpoint the moment when you realised that you wanted to work in wine and spirits education?
When I first joined Hatten Wines, I realised that my professional background was not enough to develop wine programmes. I found WSET’s courses and took my Level 1, 2 and 3 Awards in Wines in Singapore because there was no centre in Indonesia at the time.
At the time I was commuting from Bali to Singapore to study and learn at the weekends. I recall taking the two-and-a-half-hour flight a total of ten times to finish my qualifications!
These qualifications validified my ability to develop and deliver wine programmes. I later passed the Educator Training Programme in London to become the first WSET certified educator in Indonesia.
From recently taking the Educator Training Programme (ETP) and the Level 2 Award in Spirits online, how have you found the remote studying experience?
My journey in spirits was self-inspired. I passed the Level 2 Award in Spirits online and am eagerly awaiting the opportunity, after the pandemic, to take the next level in Hong Kong.
It was a fantastic opportunity to take the ETP Spirits programme within the APAC region. The group discussions among other candidates were useful for me. The conversion programme was an immense help to refresh my WSET teaching methods. The tastings were always more of a challenge when carried out remotely.
Are spirits (and spirits education) growing in popularity in Indonesia?
In Indonesia, the roles of bartenders or mixologists are much more familiar than sommeliers. There is a necessity to provide spirits education in Indonesia.
Hospitality schools currently have an optional bartending programme. In the future, collaborating with these schools and people from the industry are the keys to growth for spirits education.
As a nation of 272 million people spread across 17,000 islands, there are enormous opportunities to expand our operations at the Hatten Education Center.
Interested in developing a base of knowledge in spirits? Our Level 2 Award in Spirits will teach you about the fundamental production methods and principal raw materials discovering how they are used to make the key spirit styles. Tap here to find out more.
What advice would you give to other women looking to start a career in spirits?
Here in Indonesia, spirits, like the wine industry, is male-dominated field. People look up to you through your personality and your capabilities in your profession. The certifications and qualifications that you hold are particularly important because they validate your position and role.
Lastly, as an Indonesian, what food and wine pairings can you recommend for us to try?
I love teaching the food and wine pairing session. I love seeing the magical reaction of students when they learn how food and wine pair.
Semi-sweet white wine, very fruity dry white wine, a light body, and light tannin red wine are often great matches to compliment Indonesian food. Some are delicious with rosé wines.
My favourite is beef rendang. Rendang is a rich dish of slow-cooked meat, braised in coconut milk and seasoned with a mixture of herbs and spices. It is often cooked until the liquids evaporate and the meat turns dark brown and tender, becoming caramelised and infused with rich flavours.
You may think that because of the meaty flavours, a white might pair well, but beef rendang is best paired with a semi-sweet white wine!
Kertawidyawati, WSET Educator, Head of Hatten Education Center – Bali Indonesia www.hatteneducation.id | www.hattenwines.com
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