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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers


    Christopher Assise, FWS

    Congratulations to Christopher Assise, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Christopher:

    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!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I now have the confidence that I know what I’m buying, and can identify wines I am likely to enjoy.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 1

    Shreen Ahmad, FWS

    Congratulations to Shreen Ahmad, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar program with highest honors!

    About Shreen:

    I am a wine enthusiast. A weekend trip to Yarra Valley, Australia more than 20 years ago first sparked my fascination with wine. I’ve always lived in a big city and every holiday has to involve good wine, good food and preferably in a wine producing region or near a vineyard. Through travel, my appreciation and love for wine deepened. I’m also totally obsessed with books and movies about wine. The thirst for knowledge (and wine) never stops.

    I work in financial services and during a one-year break in London in 2019, I pursued my passion by enrolling at the WSET. I had considered a career in the wine trade but for now, I remain an Amateur de vin. With family and friends, I am the go-to person when it comes to buying or ordering which I welcome as I get to put my knowledge into practice.

    The structure of the FWS program provides a solid framework from which to build upon. It will certainly complement my future wine studies as I plan on doing the Spanish Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar soon and the Diploma at some point.

    The insight and knowledge obtained through the FWS program course has fueled my passion even more. I am already a committed Francophile; I love Spain and Italy just as much and I look for every opportunity to put into practice what I’ve learned. I can’t wait to approach France and other countries with my deeper fervour and newfound confidence.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can’t wait to approach France and other countries with my deeper fervour and newfound confidence.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast

    Trace Acres, FWS

    Congratulations to Trace Acres, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Trace:

    I’ve been a wine enthusiast for decades, and in 2018 I turned my passion for wine into vineyard and winery positions in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. I also publish a wine blog (vinsights.ca), consult to clients needing occasional wine advice, and lead a variety of unofficial tastings and seminars - online and in-person. I enjoy learning about wines and wine producing regions and hope to continue building my knowledge, primarily by continuing my travels to wine regions around the world.

    I have completed the WSET Diploma. The French Wine Scholar program drilled more deeply into France’s regions, terroir and unique wines than any course I have taken before. For anyone thinking of pursuing the WSET Diploma, I would recommend taking FWS first.

    FWS broadened my knowledge of French wines and piqued my curiosity about some lesser known regions like Savoie, Corsica and the Southwest. I hope to visit them someday! In addition, the text is proving to be an excellent research resource.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The French Wine Scholar program drilled more deeply into France’s regions, terroir and unique wines than any course I have taken before.
    • Position Tasting Room Host, Spearhead Winery & Publisher, Vinsights.ca
    • Certifications WSET Diploma

    Leslie Lim, FWS

    Congratulations to Leslie Lim, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Leslie:

    I am a wine enthusiast and started my wine journey 6 years ago, and have never looked back since! I’m eager to learn as much as I can, and I’m thinking of potentially working in the wine trade in the future!

    I’ve done the WSET level 3 prior to taking the FWS, and I think the FWS has been a great complement! The WSET level 3 has provided a broader understanding of wine, but the FWS has provided me with a much more in depth study into French wines. It’s been a great experience and I am thinking of doing the Italian Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar as well!

    I have learnt so much more about French wines through FWS, and I am certainly appreciating them much more now when I drink them. It was also great to understand the history behind so many of the various French wine regions!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was also great to understand the history behind so many of the various French wine regions!
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3

    John Lord, FWS

    Congratulations to John Lord, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About John:

    I am a wine enthusiast who first tasted wine many years ago.  Very few drank wine in those days, and if they did, it was generally vin ordinaire and as part of a fad.  After many decades of enjoying drinking better and then good wines, I turned to learning about the grape, the winemaking and the industry.  What was this pleasure I have been enjoying for so long?  Even at this later stage of life I have been absorbed, and the broader I delve the more I appreciate the people and the wines produced all around the world.

    The French Wine Scholar program was an excellent balance between technical detail, regional industry structure, the terroir and macro environment, and the grapes and styles.  I found it brought all these aspects together in a way that made you feel you have a real appreciation for the why there and why that style, and were often tempted to go off on a tangent seeking even more information and knowledge.  The independent study is very well supported by the text and the WSG website, and the Instructor lead program blended all aspects logically.  I have recently enrolled in the Italian Wine Scholar program after enjoying the FWS so much.

    Prior to joining the Wine Scholar Guild I completed WSET 2, Wine 101x: World of Wine from the University of Adelaide, and Mastering Australian Wine from the Sydney Wine Academy.  The FWS rewards through the depth and intimacy of the wine industry and the country.

    The FWS has raised my passion to try different wines, and to apply the logic and technical detail learned through France into the why, where and why that style to other countries and regions’ wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS has raised my passion to try different wines, and to apply the logic and technical detail learned
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2

    Patricia Maffetano, FWS

    Congratulations to Patricia Maffetano, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Patricia:

    Part of my family is Italian and wine has always been part of my life. However, it was in 2010, when I made my first trip to Europe (Portugal) and visited a vineyard for the first time, that I started looking at wine with much more curiosity. That’s when I became a wine enthusiast.

    Back to Brazil,  I started taking all the available courses, trainings,  workshops and tastings, trying to expand my knowledge on wine. It was only in 2016 that I obtained my first certification, as a Professional Sommelier certified by the Brazilian Association of Sommeliers (AIS partner).

    It was then I realized that I didn’t just want to study about it, I also wanted to work with it! That’s when I became a wine professional and started working with it in parallel to my other job, on the weekends, participating in fairs, giving private classes.

    It was also in 2016 that I took the WSET1, then in 2017 the WSET2 and in 2018 the WSET3.

    Next month I’m going to take the next step, I left my old job and I am going to start a MBA in Wine and Spirits at Burgundy School of Business. This is one of the reasons, in addition to my passion for French wine, that I took FWS certification. It has definitely enriched my knowledge of French wine appellations, industry, culture and history more than any other certification I took before.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It has definitely enriched my knowledge of French wine appellations, industry, culture and history.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3

    Bryce Faucheaux, FWS

    Congratulations to Bryce Faucheaux, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Bryce:

    A wine professional, I’m currently a sommelier at Justine - a bustling fine dining French restaurant that resides in the heart of the French Quarter. It combines the feeling of a Parisian café with the fun unique vibe that New Orleans has to offer.

    My first real exposure to fine wine was midway through high school, on a family trip to Tuscany. This exposure grew over the next several years into a passion that I carry with me to this day.

    My professional career in wine started in 2016, when I was finishing up my MBA program in New Orleans. In 2014, I got my undergraduate in business and, at the time, I was not set on going back to school for a masters degree. So, for a year and a half, I worked for a news website involving college sports. When I quit that job, I applied for an accredited Masters in Business Administration program. I graduated in three semesters.

    Right before my last semester in the summer of 2016, I went to France for two weeks. At the time, I didn’t have an answer of what I wanted to do with my life. Part of me had gone back to school to figure out that answer. But, on that trip, my parents said “Well, you really enjoy wine. There are things you can do career-wise with wine. You should look into that”. And that’s when the lightbulb went off.
    So when I returned from my France trip, I was telling one of my close grad school friends all about my trip and how passionate I was about wine. He then told me that he could help connect me with a Master Sommelier that he knew out in Los Angeles. Over the next several months, I was able to land an internship. During Thanksgiving 2016, we flew up to Los Angeles and spent 5 days out there. My friends made a vacation out of the trip, while I was off learning some of the ropes of the wine world and having an interview for that internship.

    I graduated in December, then moved out to Los Angeles in January 2017 - where I began my professional exposure to wine. With great help from veteran wine industry professionals, I was able to get my first couple of restaurant jobs in wine, and was able to surround myself with talented people.

    As great of a time I had out in Los Angeles, I felt it was time to come home 13 months later ( I’m a born and raised New Orleanian).  As soon as I moved back, I looked for ways to be directly and proactively involved in the New Orleans wine industry. By the summer, I had gotten a job as a wine broker with a small Italian importer. During that time, I enrolled in both WSET Level 3 Advanced and Court of Masters Level 2 Certified. I passed both on the first try, and got the highest designation with WSET. A gut feeling told me that wine class was the best way to network and open doors, and sure enough I was right. One of my closest friends today I met through my WSET class. She was there 100% of the way, allowing me to blind taste and to practice restaurant service multiple times each week in her restaurant’s wine cellar room. After a year of Italian importing, I decided I was ready to get involved with restaurants again. I took the initiative and reached out to my current restaurant group, inquiring about any wine positions.

    Fast-forward to today, I’ve been a sommelier at all three of my restaurant group’s restaurants for nearly 2 years, and am approaching the one year anniversary of being at Justine. My wine director has become a close mentor in helping me grow as a person and a wine professional, which reflects the core philosophy of my restaurant group: to foster creativity and learning, and to encourage growth and education in a positive team-building environment.
    As for the future, I’m making complete use of my Wine Scholar books to prepare for my Court of Master Sommeliers Level 3 path. The most important thing in my wine career has always been to try to learn as much as I can about wine, and I feel the Wine Scholar Guild is a fantastic resource for learning in a very structured way. I’m going to be taking the Italian Wine Scholar exams over the next year, and I’m going to apply for the CMS Level 3 Course this October.

    I’ve passed the following wine certification programs: Court of Master Sommeliers, Level 2 Certified; WSET Level 3, Pass with Distinction; French Wine Scholar, Highest Honors; and Certified Sherry Wine Specialist.

    I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules. I also love the flashcards feature on the site itself (I’m such a flashcards person that I have made flashcards of every wine textbook I own!). FWS certainly has reinforced my previous knowledge, but I also like that it covers wine regions I work with on a daily basis (i.e. Savoie, Jura, and lesser known southern France appellations)

    I’ve had others, both inside and outside of the wine world, ask me my thoughts of the program, and I’ve recommended it. It’s a great thing to discuss with people interested in learning more about wine, especially in any French-centric program. I’m very excited to be starting the Italian Wine Scholar program, because it gives the same type of structure that I found with French Wine Scholar. Personally, the FWS textbook will be a valuable resource to reference back to, whenever I may need it. I also believe that the FWS program will help me in more advanced wine courses, such as WSET Level Diploma and the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced and Master levels. My next goal is to prepare for the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced level, so the knowledge gained from the FWS material will really come in handy.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules.
    • Position Sommelier, 'Justine', New Orleans
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar

    Lela Sherdon, FWS

    Congratulations to Lela Sherdon, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lela:

    Certified Chef, Culinary School. Chef and restaurant owner of Lela’s Café, a French inspired bistro café, for 9.5 years, I had an extensive wine list of around 250 wines that rotated frequently. I did wine tastings daily and developed a keen palate and deep appreciation for French wines with their unique nuances and multi-layered experience of such well crafted wines from such beautiful terroir that truly honored the natural expression of the inherent grape varietals and the land in which they originated. I believe that France is in my cells in some unusual way. I have always gravitated to all things French, perhaps because my Grandmother was French or at least she always believed she was, even though she was actually born in Italy near France. She would have been proud of my French café and my French Wine Scholar achievement.

    In recent times, after I had sold my restaurant, and prior to Covid, I was working at a French upscale restaurant that was run by French Chefs and owners from Paris. Their wine list was entirely French. My job was to serve clients upscale tasting menus from Michelin Chefs and describe the chosen wine flights like a Sommelier. Doing the French Wine Scholar program was a natural progression for me. I realized quickly that I had a passion for French wine and a deep understanding of the wines and longed to learn more. I often would be given wines without any tasting notes and could taste them on the spot and could confidently describe them to the guests and how it related to the food, and then I would add the background info I learned from my French Wine Scholar program to actually be quite astute in my field.

    Due to the changes in the restaurant industry, I am currently focusing on my private Chef work with select clients and I also produce my own artisanal home brewed and fermented kombucha which is for me a connection to my love for wine. Truly great wine is a living substance, like kombucha, that is sensitive to its environment; it has personality, expression and even soul.

    Completing the French Wine Scholar program with highest honors was very rewarding. It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation. The 5-week instructor led intensive is something that was actually quite a gift to have such a unique focus during the time of quarantine. I am very grateful for the special timing of the program.

    Where I will go with this love for wine and study remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that it is a part of my passion and it will be a part of my future.  I hope to be able to attend some of the master classes in France in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation.
    • Position Chef, Lela’s Private Chef Services

    Andrés Medrano, FWS

    Congratulations to Andrés Medrano, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrés:

    Andrés has a background in International Business. During his second life, he has spent more than 11 years in Paris honing his food & wine knowledge. Starting in 2008 at the famous FERRANDI, school of culinary arts in Paris, he learned the hard way the fine art of pastry & cuisine, apprenticing in noted Michelin-starred restaurants. Inspired by French cuisine, he then had the opportunity to study alongside European champion chef Olivier Boudot to discover secrets of French bread-making at the international Cordon Bleu school.

    Discovering a more epicurean penchant, he then left to study for the globally recognized Wine & Spirit Education trust (WSET) level 3 qualification, a master of Champagne and the French Wine Scholar with the Wine Scholar Guild.

    Now, armed with both the skills of a Sommelier & culinary nous, he hopes to continue bringing the disciplines together as a food & wine educator in France in the near future, leading bespoke, fun, relaxed, ‘under the skin of the city’ tours around Paris’ independent delicatessens and vintners.

    He really hopes tourists will be back in France soon so he can share his food & wine knowledge and develop his educational business by taking wine travelers to visit the wine regions. Due to the current circumstances, he will be teaching a “French wines 101” online webinar in September in collaboration with context travel conversations.  He is passionate about biodynamic farming, fermented food & the history of arguably the finest cuisine in the world.

    He followed the Champagne Master Level program & WSET level 3. The FWS added a lot of new & in depth knowledge about the other French wine regions to his previous wine studies. His key to learning was tasting as many wines as possible from all French regions and comparing them. The addition of « Taste of France webinar series » to the FWS program really helped him understanding what he was tasting and kept him motivated.

    The FWS program offered a fantastic & exciting insight into every single French region. The teachings of Sharon & Lisa were truly enjoyable, precise & fun. Andrés is looking forward to following their foot steps and becoming a solid wine educator & tour guide.

    For the rest of the year, Andrés plans to continue drinking French wines & digesting everything he has learnt before moving to the IWS next year.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The teachings of Sharon & Lisa were truly enjoyable, precise & fun.
    • Position Co-Founder / Food & Wine tour guide, We Taste Paris
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, Champagne Master Level

    Tan Shu Tong, FWS

    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.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial This gives me an edge to explain French wine in its entirety, and not limited to the prominent labels in the market.
    • Position Air Sommelier / Flight Attendant, Singapore Airlines
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Introductory Sommelier Certificate
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