Congratulations to HF George Mak, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
About George :
First of all, it is my pleasure to be invited to do this interview.
I am a registered nurse working in a nursing home, so wine has absolutely nothing to do with my actual career. I do somewhat involve in wine as a judge member in Hong Kong Wine Judge Association, a non-profit organization which judges wine according to local palate.
Hong Kong, as an Asian wine hub, is blessed with ZERO tax for wines. This allowed this pleasurable drink, and a fabulous combination of art and science, to be appreciated widely in this metropolis. I seriously believe this is a bridge for building friendship and connection in the city, which indeed, worked for me.
As from my title, I am a WSET Diploma graduate (just graduated with merit in April 2018), I also completed Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar Program, as well as THREE Master-Level Certificate from Wine Scholar Guild: Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Rhone. I also did Certified Specialist of Wine. Yet, I also completed several other programs involving German wines, South African wines, etc.
Indeed, I have to say that my passion for wines started from the French Wine Scholar Program. Back in 2014, after completing my Masters program in a local university, I contacted my current wine school, AWSEC Hong Kong, which is also the only provider for WSET Diploma program here, for something interesting and challenging to carry on for studying. By coincidence, I enrolled in the FWS program and immersed myself into this eye-opening world. Being the mother of various great wines of the world, studying French wines facilitated me to appreciate great wines from the new world. This hunger for knowledge and pleasure grew like a snowball which pushed me to further pursue the titles which I currently hold. As I had said, all of which are for personal enjoyment. Wine world is ever-evolving such that I am never tired of exploring it via these wine classes.
Italian wines are angels and devils combined: Angel as for the great diversity with various hidden treasures with outstanding quality wines from various regions. Yet, it is widely perceived as a devil, especially for wine students, for this diversity. I still record the fact that I prayed for ZERO Italian wine questions appearing for my WSET Level 3 exam as I always got bogged down by the 20 Italian wine regions (I can never recall anything except Barolo and Chianti) when I was doing it.
I did my IWS Unit 1 alongside with my WSET Diploma. I must give my most sincere altitude to my tutor, Ms. Jennie MACK of AWSEC, for her passion and superb quality teaching, which guided me throughout this daunting task. Upon completing the Unit 1 for IWS, the fogs in my brain for Northern Italy all dispersed like magic. As a contrast, I prayed for questions for Piemonte and Veneto to appear in my Diploma theory exam! I would appreciate if the IWS Unit 2 was available in classroom format in AWSEC before I completed my Diploma such that any Italian wine questions would be a piece of cake.
After completing the WSET Diploma, the only thing to move forward is Masters of Wine. Yet, as I am out of trade, I cannot do it. I would appreciate if there are any training programs available locally or online such that I can train myself up to become a wine educator. I strongly believe I currently have enough input from these preparation work, and am ready to take a certificate, and to start off in involving in the wine education career.
Nevertheless, I am excited to learn that WSG will be launching Masters Program for Loire and various Italian wine regions. Most importantly, Spanish Wine Scholar will come soon and it is for sure, a must-do program for me in 2019.
IWS banished all my fear and misconceptions which many wine lovers in Hong Kong have when it comes to appreciating Italian wine. This means that my cellar would be flooded by them in a foreseeable future. As hidden gems, many outstanding wines are only offered in modest price in our current market, this is awesome for consumers. Besides considering to be a wine educator, possible wine careers could be ambassadors for Italian wines, or consultants of it, all of which are possible only after completion of this serious and comprehensive wine program.
Again, it was my honour to be invited to write this! Salute to WSG, AWSEC and Jennie!