Congratulations to Aurélien Laban, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
Growing up in France, wine is omnipresent but often underappreciated, a bit taken for granted. It was after academic studies that I chose to work with culinary companies. I worked in France in the Alain Ducasse group and in Singapore for 5 years for a small group of French restaurants. After those enriching years spent among people sharing a passion for food and wine, I came back to Paris and found an opportunity to lead food tours, educating visitors on what food and wine mean to French culture. It was only natural then to enroll in the French Wine Scholar program to supplement the knowledge I already had, and to finally try and grasp the full diversity and depth of French wines.
In what I do, leading food tours in Paris, wine is only a portion of the culinary topics I talk about. Bread, cheese, charcuterie and more are often just as important for my guests. Therefore, I didn't feel pressured to enroll in a more “global” program like the WSET. It was, however, invaluable for me to be able to find a program that would focus only on what I wanted to learn, French wines, without needing a prior degree or certification.
Being certified with the FWS really gave me a necessary boost of confidence to be able to, in the future, interact with the wine professionals I work with daily, wine shop owners particularly. I see this confidence not only as professionally rewarding, but also as being able to understand and appreciate better the craftmanship that goes into winemaking. It can be intimidating to interact with winemakers at a salon or when visiting an estate. Having passed the FWS, I think, made that connection easier.