Congratulations to Walden Pemantle, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar program with highest honors!
I am both a wine enthusiast and professional. I caught the wine bug over a show-stopping pairing at Alinea restaurant in Chicago. Since then, I have worked as a cook, a food writer, an Italian wine importer, and currently, as the manager of my program provider, the Texas Wine School. Throughout the journey, food, wine, and the closeness that they bring us have been my most consistent passions. I hope to keep writing, teaching, and tasting, spreading the belief that every bottle and every bite are worth our attention.
I have passed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Advance level exam with distinction and am currently working through their diploma program. I have also passed my Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, earning the Walter Clore Scholarship for top score.
Before diving full-time into the wine world, I studied the microbiology of cheese and wine as part of a summer program at Rutgers University, and completed original research on Post-Modernism in food and the culinary and oenological impacts of Thomas Jefferson on American cuisine at Rice University.
I took Italian Wine Scholar between my Certified Sommelier exam and the beginning of the WSET Diploma program. I have found that, beyond the obvious advantage IWS offers in Italian theory knowledge, IWS simply prepares students for studying at a higher level of detail than similar wine exams. I remember being in Verona with a friend who had passed multiple sections of the Master Sommelier exam. He was telling me what he had just learned in a seminar on Lambrusco about cross-pollination between Lambrusco di Sorbara and Salamino and I remember thinking “I learned that in IWS!”
I think the level of knowledge I gained in IWS will continue to be my standard for what it means to have an in-depth knowledge of any given region. I have always loved Italy, and I hope that my IWS certification might mark the beginning of my role as someone looked at as an Italian wine specialist among my wine community.