Congratulations to Thomas B Burckell, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
In 1972 my girlfriend, now wife of forty-two years, and I, were introduced to Spanish Wine as fifteen-year-old summer exchange students. Since our first encounter my love for wine has continue to grow. Enthusiasm has turned into a passion for all wines, but especially those of Spain. The Spanish Wine Scholar program allowed me to turn my passion into tangible knowledge. With each sip of Spanish wine, I now have a working knowledge of the history, the key people, the climates and soils, the wine practices and laws which make the flavors in my glass come alive and each taste more enjoyable.
My wine knowledge up to taking the SWS course has been self-motivated and self-taught. To learn about wine, I am a firm believer that you must drink it! I have been a thirty-year member of the American Wine Society, and president of our local chapter many times. Our group is focused on wine education, so each month for the last three decades I have learned a little more. This has also allowed me to do many wine presentations for our group as well as other groups. Each time I do a presentation, I take it on like doing a term paper. I always look for the back story on the wine, the owner, the land, or the grape. I once did a presentation for 6 course meal prepared by a French chef to a very knowledgeable wine group in an historical setting. I was a nervous wreck! In my opening remarks a question from the audience only re-enforced my concerns. A gentleman asked me, “What credentials do you have to do this presentation?” I looked in the eye and said, “I am an avid consumer!” To wine shop owners delight, that is still my mantra today.
Recently retired, it is my dream to do more wine presentations for small groups and dinners. Not necessarily for monetary gains, but to allow me to experience more wine and food pairings. The SWS program has given me creditability and hopefully will open more opportunities to do more wine events. Since receiving my certificate I was asked to do a Spanish Wine tasting at local wine shop, and also presented to our local AWS chapter’s monthly meeting. Both these opportunities only re-enforced why I was so glad to take and complete the SWS program.