Many congratulations to Sudhakaran Ram, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
I have been a wine enthusiast for a long time (over 25 years). I have always been fascinated with food/wine/liquors and spend a lot of time reading about this and exploring food/wine around where I live. I am blessed to be living in SF Bay Area which has provided plenty of opportunities for exploring food/wine. My wife traveled through France/Germany/Austria visiting her relatives. She wanted me experience Alsace since she had a wonderful time there. That was my first trip to Europe and I was blown away with the culture of every region having its own food/typical wine and tons of varieties of liquors. Subsequent trips to France and other parts of Europe added to this fascination. I started to collect wine/liquors from France and old world. I always focused more on other varieties than the famous international varieties of wine. This showed me what wine could be and how to enjoy it from various terroir.
For the most part I have primarily been doing self-studies and learning about the great vineyards, famous regions, great producers. I bought a number of books on wine and studied them. I was very interested in knowing what types of wines were made in different regions. Most of my focus is of old world. In addition, I always was reading local newspaper/wine magazines about wines, wineries, up and coming regions, etc. Every opportunity I got, I tried to go visit local wineries and events to learn. I was also interested in identifying great producers making age worthy wines. This led me to start collecting a few wines, with the focus on well-made wines that aged well (both whites and reds). In addition to self-studies, I always planned my vacations around wine destinations. On one such vacation, I travelled to Bourgogne and Champagne and spent time there visiting small villages and wineries and experiencing the food/wine culture. These are absolutely fascinating since you learn a lot about the nuances of the regions when you travel there. For instance, my wife’s aunt took us to visit a Recoltant-Manipulant in Grand Cru Ambonnay was fascinating. We could sit in their home and learn about their wine philosophy and enjoy their Champagne.
Last year one of my high school buddies from India (who is also heavily into wine and wine studies) told me about FWS and recommended that I would love the program. French wine was always on top of my studies and I immediately decided to join the FWS program offered at SF Wine School. I was absolutely thrilled with the program. Even though I knew a lot from my studies, the program provided me with a depth of knowledge about various regions, their history and the wines that was a huge complement to what I knew before. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and the history and details of AOC, grapes, terroir and food. FWS also exposed me to details of smaller regions which I normally would bypass in self-studies – places like Jura/Savoie/Southwest. This combined with the exceptional wines poured for tasting during the classes really showcased knowledge that I would not have experienced on my own. FWS was something I enjoyed and I hope to take other certifications (IWS/SWS) in the future. Hopefully, I will be involved in the wine trade in the future – such as wine travel or wine import/exports.