It’s simple – I love wine and now I’ve passed the WSET Diploma. If you’re not sure what that is, this article will set you straight.
This all started during a trip to Spain in 2010 when I had some significant wine moments and thought ‘…maybe I should learn a little more about wine.’
Now look at me.
In addition to this (and because the needle’s still in my arm), I also passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Introductory Sommelier Course and Exam (Sept. 2014) and the French Wine Scholar (FWS) in October, 2015. I’m wrestling with whether or not to pursue the MW courses (I value my sanity though, so…) or continue on to obtain the WSET Educator qualification.
I don’t ever want to be called a wine snob, although certain people I know do cringe when I correct the way they hold their wine glasses and it’s possible I’ve berated others for chewing gum at tastings.
I wanted to have a record of the wines I’ve enjoyed (or haven’t as the case may be) and thought this was a safer way than continuing to post my reviews on Facebook. It’s been suggested to me I’m a little prolific. Or perhaps I just drink too much. Well, I have teenagers.
I use WSET terminology and the SAT (Systematic Approach to Tasting) to avoid confusion. That includes a note about appearance, nose, flavour profile and a conclusion (using ‘poor’, ‘acceptable’, ‘good’, ‘very good’ and ‘outstanding’).
Drink and explore with me – spit if you must.
More about Winellama…
For most of my adult life, I have enjoyed drinking wine. And while I’ve enjoyed it, until relatively recently I couldn’t have told anyone why I thought it was such terrific stuff. Why, for example, a specific varietal was special, why I preferred one vinification method over another, or why terroir was so important for the winemaking process. In fact, I couldn’t have told anyone the difference between Champagne and Cap Classique, Port and a Vin Doux Naturel or Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – never mind the down-and-dirty about Pisco, Rhum Agricole or, say, Brandy de Jerez.
All this changed when in 2010 I went to Spain for a business trip. I fell in love with wine – with the importance it plays in that culture, with the thoughtful manner in which it is paired with tapas to bring out the best in both, and with the exciting variety of whites, reds, sherries and sparkling cavas available. I came back to Vancouver determined to learn more about wine and marketing it.
A short time later and after more than a little research about the differences between the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), International Sommelier’s Guild (ISG) and Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) pathways, I signed up for the WSET Foundation Level course. I’d found my calling.
This was followed by WSET Level 2 Intermediate and then a decision to become more serious with WSET Level 3 Advanced in spring 2012. When I passed Level 3 with Distinction in October 2012, it was official – I had been bitten by the proverbial wine bug.
In an effort to get some concrete experience and start exploring whether or not I might enjoy working in the industry, in March 2012 I contacted a local winery where I was a well-known and enthusiastic regular. Desperate for some hands-on experience, I offered to volunteer just to learn about the business of growing grapes, making wine and selling it. Kind hearted souls that they are, the owners insisted upon paying me and I ended up working many Sundays (in addition to my ‘day job’ at a local university) running the tasting room and introducing winery guests and groups to the cider, white, red and fortified wines made there.
During that summer I also realized as the WSET training intensified that I needed to practice writing tasting notes quickly and as if they were second nature to prepare for the Level 3 exam. With that in mind, I started this blog on which I record tasting notes of all the wines I’ve tried since July 2012 and any wineries I’ve visited.
After I passed Level 3 I made the leap to Level 4 and the WSET Diploma program which I passed in August 2014.
I used to dream of pursuing the Master of Wine designation, but I now know if I still want to have friends and my husband around, I shouldn’t get involved in that. So, the buck stops here – with Winellama.
I look forward to my second career in wine and to participating in all that the industry has to offer – and to understanding the ‘why’ about wine.