Congratulations to Christopher Assise, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
Eight years ago, I attended a work dinner with a food and wine loving boss. The first course was a mushroom and burrata bruschetta. My boss insisted that I put down my cocktail and try the bottle of Pinot Noir (MacMurray Ranch, I saved the cork) he ordered. I was blown away at the way the wine and food could each make the other taste better. For that point on, I was hooked. For the next few years I wandered aimlessly in the wine world, trying as many things as I could, understanding virtually nothing about why what I was drinking tasted the way it did, or even what the labels on many of the bottles meant. Then, three years ago I realized that really appreciating wine meant understanding where it was grown, why the wine tastes as it does, and what – specifically – about wine I like, and don’t like. So I started taking some tepid steps into wine education.
My first wine program was the Level I WSET course. After that, life (read: kids) got in the way, and my learning (at least my non drinking learning) consistent of occasional reading on airplanes, and bemoaning the fact that I “didn’t have time” to take a more rigorous class, and didn’t know what kind of class I wanted to take. Finally, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself to truly master a corner of the world. I selected France because, well, it is France and also because I was tired of looking at French wine and not even knowing what the label meant! Above everything, this program reinforced how much I love learning about wine, but it also gave me the confidence that if I’m willing to dedicate myself, I really can go from not understanding what the label means to really understanding a complex region!
For now, I’m trying to figure out whether my next challenge will be “on to the next region,” or something a bit broader. Either way, I hope to run into many of my virtual classmates again during my studies!
FWS is already paying off the effort I put in. Instead of being scared or confused to venture into French wine, with labels I didn’t understand, I now have the confidence that I know what I’m buying, and can identify wines I am likely to enjoy. Even better, whereas my French wine buying (and drinking) was previously limited to Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne, and the occasional wine from a familiar part of the Loire I’m now not only interested in exploring lesser known areas, but I have the confidence and knowledge I need to identify wines in these lesser known areas that I will enjoy!