Congratulations to Tan Shu Tong, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
About Shu Tong:
I am a wine enthusiast who is trying to better my understanding of wines, however, my job, though not exactly in the wine industry, is still related to wine. As an Air Sommelier cum Flight Attendant, I advise discerning passengers on the choice of beverages, especially wines, to pair with the food. At the same time, there are also sharing sessions onboard with fellow colleagues, so that they understand the types of wine we have for the different flight routes.
It took me around 2 years (of flying/working experience) to get into the highly selective in-house program – Air Sommelier Program. We were trained to understand wines, and to further dissect it into the nuances in terms of science (chemical compounds), law (legal classifications), market (trends, challenges, opportunities), entrepreneurship (designing a wine business). Most importantly, it piqued my interest in an explorative manner through the projects, and it widened my view of wines.
I aspire to gain more experiences in the world of wines. This could be to enroll myself in a wine degree (eg. International Wine Business at Hochschule Geisenheim University), work in a vineyard for a while, be part of the winemaking team, or in the restaurants managing the wine menu and service. Basically, to immerse myself in the wine industry, be it front-of-house or back-of-house, all around the world.
Prior to the FWS program, I had the following:
• WSET Level 3 Certificate from WSET, UK
• Introductory Sommelier Certificate
• Hospitality Beverage Specialist Certificate from Society of Wine Educators, USA
The FWS program gave me a fresh perspective of French wines through the showcase of regions, and in-depth details. Moreover, the various study aides such as the maps, online study modules, pronunciation practices, themed webinars, and collaborations, on top of the textbook, serve as a thorough study strategy with reinforcement on the topics. All in all, it put me in a better position to read French wine labels, recognize the different French regions, and to taste a greater variety of French wines.
Currently, I am enrolled in programs related to other beverages too, such as:
• Italian Wine Professional from Italian Wine Central
• Intermediate Coffee Series from Specialty Coffee Association
• Certified Sake Sommelier from Sake Sommelier Association
Planning to take up certifications like:
• Certified Specialist of Wines from Society of Wine Educators
• Certified Sommelier from Court of Master Sommelier
• Looking forward for a German Wine Scholar if Wine Scholar Guild plans to have it
The strong foundation that FWS has given me will be an advantage for me to take on other more specialized wine education and certifications. It will also serve as a good reference thereafter.
Knowing my French wines better allows me to dive deeper into the known regions, and explore wines from less known regions. This gives me an edge to explain French wine in its entirety, and not limited to the prominent labels in the market. At the same time, it forces me to compare and contrast the wines made in France. For instance, I just did a rose tasting with some colleagues, ranging from 2018 Symphonie, Chateau Sainte Marguerite, Cotes de Provence-La Londe AOC Cru Classe and 2018 Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence AOC, to 2016 Lavau, Tavel AOC and 2018 M. Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone AOC. Suffice to say, rose wines are definitely not so simple to us anymore.
In my job, it gives me more things to share with the passengers and colleagues. In the future, it would be a good complement to my other studies, and I could also apply the knowledge in other functions. Most importantly, the knowledge will be the fundamental blocks for me to learn and explore more.