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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Robert Quinn, FWS, SWS

    Robert Quinn, FWS, SWS
    My cellar is much more diverse and every night’s glass is an adventure. Clearly, wine is a discipline that warrants a lifetime of study.
    Robert Quinn, FWS, SWS, Owner, Playground Restaurant & Detention restaurants in Downtown Santa Ana
    Other certifications: WSET Level 2, Introductory Sommelier Certificate

    Congratulations to Robert Quinn, FWS, SWS for passing both the French and Spanish Wine Scholar exams with highest honors!

    About Robert:

    I have been a wine enthusiast since I took a job as a busboy in a family owned French restaurant in 1975.  The owner took me under his wing and taught me to love the passionately crafted French wines we sold.  (He held poorly disguised distain for California wines.)  I left the restaurant business after college to study and practice law, but my love for wines did not diminish and I continued to travel to wine regions, read wine books, and collect and drink my favorites.  

    A generation later in 2011, my son and I started Playground Restaurant, so he could follow his passion to become a chef.  I developed the vision of our wine program but left the details to our sommelier.  Meanwhile, my wife and I joined a local chapter of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and my evident passion for wine and the art of pairing it with beautiful food soon elevated me to the position of Échanson, which put me in charge of our cellar and allowed me to craft pairing dinners for my friends.  I was well aware of the limits of my knowledge and began moving my way through the WSET levels.  As I learned more I was better able to introduce more interesting and unfamiliar wines to my pairing dinners with the intention of broadening the horizons of event guests.  I now find myself holding the position of Échanson Provincial for the Far West Region of the United States.  In this capacity I am able to help local Échansons develop wine and other beverage programs for their chapters and to develop regional programs of my own.  WSET and WSG’s programs are making me much more competent in fulling my mission.

    Years ago I passed Court of Master Sommeliers level one exam.  Then I heard of WSET and its emphasis on theory.  It was wine knowledge I wanted; I knew I would never again open a bottle of wine for a restaurant patron.  When COVID hit and we closed our restaurants to in-restaurant dining, I decided to invest in my staff’s wine knowledge as well as my own.  I paid for ten of us to take a WSET Level Two class with Peter Neptune at Neptune School of Wine.  The class was a joy and those of my staff who took it were fully engaged.  Four of us then took the Level 3 class.  Two of us then took the French Wine Scholar course and, having survived that, both of us went on to complete the Spanish Wine Scholar course.  I then completed the Certified Sherry Wine Scholar program and she has begun work on her WSET Diploma.

    I’m currently working my way through the Italian Wine Scholar program.  

    The FWS program brought my French wine knowledge up to date (I was still stuck around 1990) and introduced me to many new appellations and wines.  I now feel well grounded in French wines, although I am keenly aware of how much I still do not know.  I suspect you’ll find me involved in some of your travel or intense study programs in the near future.  

    I’m putting the knowledge I gained in the SWS and CSWS programs to more immediate use.  I’ve designed a Spanish wine event for the Châine des Rôtisseurs that pairs a progression of little known and famous Spanish wines with classic Spanish dishes, with the goal of introducing guests to several new and exciting Spanish wines in a warm and pleasant social setting.

    No doubt my refreshed and enhanced wine knowledge will have an impact on our restaurant’s wine list and the development of our next restaurant project, and I will no doubt be more effective in executing my duties as Échanson Provincial, but the main purpose of continuing my wine education is for my personal enjoyment.  I have learned about many exciting wines from appellations I had never previously heard of.  I understand far more about the details of viticulture and viniculture, which has added to my appreciation of wine.  As a result, my cellar is much more diverse and every night’s glass is an adventure.  Clearly, wine is a discipline that warrants a lifetime of study.

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