Wine Scholar Guild honors Jimmy Smith of West London Wine School as 2018 Italian Wine Scholar™ (IWS) Instructor of the Year!
IWS Instructor of the Year is an award of excellence recognizing creative and effective classroom instruction for the Italian Wine Scholar study & certification program. The recipient is selected based upon outstanding presentation skills, organization, congeniality and a genuine and spirited dolce vita—all talents reflected in stellar student evaluations.
INTERVIEW WITH JIMMY SMITH
When and why did you choose to become an Italian Wine Scholar instructor?
I chose to start delivering WSG courses in 2016. I began with the in-depth French Wine Scholar (FWS) program and was thoroughly impressed and enthused by the level of detail it offered across multi-disciplines and the inclusion of lesser-known wine areas such as Corsica, Jura, Savoie and South-West France. The level of culture included also enabled me to really bring the courses to life and in 2017 we won the Best French Wine Scholar Programme Provider at West London Wine School, and accomplishment that we are highly proud of. Inevitably, when the much-anticipated Italian Wine Scholar programme (IWS) was launched, I immediately signed up having full confidence that the level of detail and quality within this course would be consistent with that of the FWS course. I delivered my first exciting IWS Unit 1 course in Jan 2018 to a group of 25 eager students, many who had sat the FWS course with me.
What has really impressed me with the IWS course is that no stone is left unturned. The level of detail is beyond impressive, the presentations are professional and extremely well designed. The flexibility the Wine Scholar Guild provides tutors in choosing the wines to show is also brilliant as it enables someone like me to show around 10-12 wines per session to really allow students to get a taste of the area/region we cover.
To whom do you recommend the Italian Wine Scholar program and why?
I recommend the IWS course to existing WSG students who have completed the FWS programme with us as well as approximately 7000 current and past students who have asked to remain updated on all of West London Wine School’s courses and tastings. We also recommend these courses specifically to our WSET alumni as we believe the WSG courses are an ideal supplement to the higher-level WSET courses, enabling students with a thorough education of France and Italy in anticipation or during their WSET Diploma studies. Inevitably, this leads to our courses being filled with some very enthusiastic students. We are also recommending to our business’ wine suppliers - directly marketing the courses to specialists of the relevant countries.
You are getting outstanding reviews from your students. How do you think your instruction style or teaching methods set you apart/help your students be so successful?
Without blowing my own trumpet… through accolades and recognition my wine school and myself personally have won many awards for our teaching methods and approach to the world of wine. I am a very enthusiastic tutor who cares very much for the topic in hand and coupled with the excellent courses themselves I feel that I am easily able to bring each session’s content to life. I regularly visit France and Italy and the excursions always revolve around wine regions of these countries! This first-hand experience enables me to add extra-curricular to each the sessions.
Throughout my years as a wine educator, I have been incredibly fortunate to become connected with many amazing individuals in the wine industry here in London, UK. These contacts have also been instrumental in allowing me to obtain a large listing of wines, some of which that are often very hard to otherwise source. Therefore my evening sessions of the IWS course commonly have 10-12 wines on them which really enable the students to taste their way around Italy. This is especially important in a country such as Italy where the diversity of wines is huge. And finally we cannot forget the local food – I always include local cheeses, meats and other dishes that are relevant to region thus really immersing the student in the culture of that specific area. My students always go home full – of knowledge, food and wine!
I have also created a small database of mock examination papers to accompany the excellent online modules that WSG offer.
You have been teaching FWS and IWS for quite some years now. What, from an instructor perspective, have these programs brought to you? Can we count on you to bring the upcoming Spanish Wine Scholar program to London?
I am already half way through studying the Spanish Wine Scholar programme (SWS) – so yes you can count on it!
I have been teaching wine for over 14 years, and WSET Levels 1 through 3 for the same length of time - training thousands of students in that time frame. Whilst the WSET courses have and will always be great courses providing students with an incredible foundation of wine knowledge spanning the globe the WSG courses are absolutely brilliant at providing students with an incredible amount of in-depth knowledge specific to the iconic old world countries of France, Italy and Spain, and specifically include the cultural, historical and romantic context around the wine regions of these countries. Wine is multi-discipline, and the WSG courses have made me a more complete wine educator with a broader skill set to accompany what I have developed through other wine educational bodies. Personally, I love to learn and the WSG courses have been amazing at enhancing my level of knowledge and passion for the wine regions they cover.
2018 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:
- French Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Cru Consultancy (Vancouver, Canada)
- French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Tanya Morning Star (Seattle, WA)
- Italian Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Asia Wine Service & Education Centre (Hong Kong)
- Italian Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Jimmy Smith (London, UK)
Previous Years WSG Awards:
- 2017 French Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: West London Wine School (London, UK)
- 2017 French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Hwee Peng Lim, CWE, FWS (Singapore)
- 2017 Italian Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Independent Wine Education Guild - IWEG (Toronto, CAN)
- 2017 Italian Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Chris Miller (San Francisco Wine School, USA)
- 2016 WSG Program Provider of the Year: Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, CAN)
- 2016 WSG Instructor the Year: Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS, IWS (Wasatch Academy of Wine, Salt Lake City, USA)
- 2015 WSG Program Provider of the Year: AWSEC (Hong Kong, HKG)
- 2015 WSG Instructor the Year: David Glancy MS, FWS (San Francisco Wine School, USA)