sommelier

Becoming a Sommelier: The Importance of Essays

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by Kimberly Faye

This past week we wrote exam level essays that count toward our final grade. We will repeat that process when we do our final exam which will include a 100-point multiple choice test, 4 essays and 9 blind tastings – all timed. This is only the beginning for those who are truly passionate about furthering their knowledge and career potential as a Sommelier.

Essay writing is an important component of the International Sommelier Guild qualification for certificate achievement and if you have an any inkling that you may want to proceed to diploma level and then pursue the Quarter Master Sommelier or seek to achieve the highest and most prestigious award in the industry: Master of Wine Diploma, then grab your paper and pen because you have some writing to do. To even be considered for the Master of Wine (by invitation only) you must submit an essay describing your achievements along with your current Sommelier knowledge.

Writing is an art form that comes easier for some than others. I happen to pride myself as being a wordsmith and in fact am quite convinced that words are my love language. I subscribe to the word-of-the-day through dictionary.com because it also pronounces each word along with the definition and offers quotes of the word in the context of a sentence. Even so, I grapple with my words, especially conjunctions, because I believe they set the tone for a positive or negative response.

If writing is your strong-suite then you will find essay writing on your Sommelier journey to be rewarding. As an author (see memoirofabrokenbrain.com) PDF-essay Pays Nantais & Chablis Essay and blog writer, I will honestly confess that while I love writing, I found the essay’s to be challenging. For every essay that I turned in, I wrote and rewrote that essay at least five times. From my own experience, I highly recommend following your instructors homework guidelines and write as many essays as you can prior to taking the exam. “Essay sections on the ISG’s Level II and Diploma exams are important measures of a student’s understanding of the topics covered in class.” (International Sommelier Guild https://www.internationalsommelier.com/courses/wine_fundamentals_2 ).

According to Cognitive Science, writing helps to improve your memory through what is called,  Elaborative Encoding ( http://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/68/does-writing-somethingdown-help-memorize-it ).  I am convinced that writing the essays also helps the instructor gauge the comprehension level of his students and make adjustments accordingly. While the instructor’s primary purpose is to educate the students on Wine Fundamentals from the textbook, his ability to size up the room is an important element of the success of the class. Our instructor, Thomas Allen, has done an excellent job of developing a cohesive group of students who achieve the ultimate goal of why we spent our hard-earned money on this class: To receive L2 Sommelier Certification. BTW, I’m not being paid to plug ISG or Mr. Allen. I write this blog for all the fledgling Sommelier’s of this world and those who are considering their options to achieve wine knowledge certification.

In conclusion of today’s blog I am attaching one of my essays that I achieved a 10/10 score.

Enjoy !

 

Please visit www.internationalsommelier.com for info on the classes and how you can sign up in your area!

Please visit our Becoming a Sommelier Sponsor at www.marriott.com/densd

springhill
Sponsor of Becoming a Sommelier

 

you may also purchase my Book Memoir of a Broken Brain at Amazon.com

Becoming a Sommelier: Where There is Fruit – There is Root

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by Kimberly Faye

I’ve been using the phrase, “where there is fruit there is always a root” for many years now, though typically in the context of human behavior (see www.findyourshineradio.com). Now that I am knee deep in schist, limestone, gravel and alluvium soil, the saying has taken on a whole new, and, may I say even much deeper meaning.

Until I began my journey of studying the viticulture of winemaking, I had no real knowledge of the type of soil, climate and conditions that soil_diagram_postcardproduce the most concentrated fruit for the worlds best wines. That said, I am a farm girl. Or, I should say I was a farm girl – and hope to be a farm girl again someday – preferably in wine-country. I left the farm in my mid-20‘s with zealous determination to develop an urban lifestyle. I have since learned that I’m not much of a city slicker and prefer a quieter, less congested lifestyle. Nothing, however, has surprised me more than to realize that my daddy’s words would one day resonate to my core. When daddy came to visit he took great pains to remind me that I was not built for city life. On the day of my birth, my mother was driven by a tracker to the nearest highway because of a snowstorm that made passage through the hollow impossible. That, according to his way of thinking, should have rooted me in the country where we farmed the land and raised white-faced Hereford cattle.

Always, on his way out the door to the truck (Daddy didn’t like airplanes so he and Mommy put on lots of miles to visit me as I traipsed my way across the US changing jobs every three years just so I could experience a new city) before placing his ten gallon hat atop his head, he would reach down and give me one of his bear hugs while leaving these parting words, “You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl!” Oh, how those words infuriated me! I was determined to become citified and daddy’s intimidation was not going to deter me.

My little jaunt down memory lane is intended to show how early years of farm life taught me that good vegetables are grown in nutrient rich, well watered soils. The same is true of grape vines with one very important caveat: Grape vines need soil, climate and conditions that will force their roots to burrow deep to find the nutrients that the vine needs.

Winemakers throughout the worlds great wine producing regions agree that great wines come from suffering vines. Take the Rhone Valley for instance, the home of Chateauneuf du Pape, where harvesters have to wade through mounds of round riverbed rocks to get to the vines. These rocks, called ‘galets’ influence the minerality in the fine Grenache blends from that region.

I have become a fan of Michael Fagan’s Discover series https://www.lcbo.com/learn/podcasts/discover/series.shtml . If you want to learn more about wines and wine cultures follow his blog and watch his video’s. In an interview with Nicolas Jaboulet of Paul Jaboulet-Aîné wines we learn that the vines need to suffer from poor soils so the system of the root can go deep in order to feed the grape.

I conclude with this thought. Is it possible that vitis vinifera vines are designed to teach us humans a thing or two about suffering? Deep roots produce concentrated fruit. I don’t know about you but I want to go deep and maybe I have with this blog.

 

Please visit www.internationalsommelier.com for info on the classes and how you can sign up in your area!

Please visit our Becoming a Sommelier Sponsor at www.marriott.com/densd

springhill
Sponsor of Becoming a Sommelier

 

you may also purchase my Book Memoir of a Broken Brain at Amazon.com

Becoming a Sommelier: The World Is Your Oyster

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by Kimberly Faye

The worlds most prominent wine regions happen to be my favorite places to travel. Today being an extraordinary day, one that annually offers the opportunity to do whatever one has the ability to imagine, I have decided to eat and drink my way through France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Hungary.

I begin my adventure today in Alsace, France with a Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer. It offers aromas of apricot and honey with a developing  Alsace-France-4bouquet of lavender and herbs. On the palate it has a nice lingering finish, is full-bodied and with dried apricot and orange peel flavors. It is dry with residual sugar, low in tannin and acid and not too high in alcohol. This area of France produces mostly white wines from aromatic varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. Since I arrived early and I’m in Europe, I’m having my wine with Quiche Lorraine and bacon.

From here travel on to Germany where I will experience a Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Auslese from Mosel, the most famous of Germany’s 13 official wine regions. It offers intense aromas of fresh citrus and a hint of petrol (what you’d expect from this region). On the palate it is balanced and full-bodied with a lingering finish of green apple, pear and lemon meringue pie. Every time I drink this wine I will dream of Germany. It’s time for lunch so I’m having dish of thin, pan-fried veal called Schnitzel. On my way through the winding streets I’m going to pick up a loaf of Stollen to enjoy with my Tokaji aszu when I get to Hungary (for dessert later). tokaji

I haven’t quite satisfied my sweet tooth so I’m off to Austria. While I’m here I will have a 2012 Domaine Wachau Grüner Veltlinerfrom the esteemed region of Wachau. The small vineyard, located along the Danube River has southern exposure and vines that burrow deep into slate and granite soils which may be why this dry Riesling has such great concentration. It has a bright clear golden core and intense nutty aromas with a developing bouquet of clover honey. On the palate it is smooth with lingering apricot and honey flavors. It is off-dry and low in tannin, acid and alcohol. All this glorious white wine has made me hungry.

I’m off to Italy for some Radicchio Rosoo al Forno. Normally I would be going for Wild Boar over homemade pasta with a glass of Brunello, that is if I were in Tuscany or Rome, but since Vin Italy (http://www.vinitalyinternational.com/) starts this soaveweek and we are in Veneto, the largest wine producing region of Italy, I am tasting the local fare. After all, when in Venice, eat like the Venicians. I will be pairing my Radicchio al Forno with a 2011 Inama Soave Classico from Veneto, Italy. This is an inexpensive dry white wine that  expresses itself best with food. On the nose it offers floral aromas and a hint of pear which comes through on the palate as well. This is an enjoyable, easy to drink wine and because it is Classico the grapes are grown in this area.

I really planned to pop over to Spain today before heading back to the United States for next week’s class but I will have to end my journey here. If you’re up for the ride, pack your bags and let’s go to Spain next week. I need more stamps on my passport.

Please visit www.internationalsommelier.com for info on the classes and how you can sign up in your area!

Please visit our Becoming a Sommelier Sponsor at www.marriott.com/densd

springhill
Sponsor of Becoming a Sommelier

 

 April Fools!

Becoming a Sommelier: Mastering Level 1

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by Kimberly Faye

I was at a wine tasting recently – one of those fundraiser events where people mill around pretending to be wine enthusiasts but are really L1-Somm-Certificationthere for the extensive amount of wine that is available for consumption. That, and the free food. So, I ran into this gal who was super excited about a new catering business she is starting. Just to be caddy, I will tell you this is the umpteenth dozen new business adventure I’ve heard about in the past 5 years so I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement as she described her business plan to pair wine, food and cannabis in private residences. Hey, it’s Colorado! And, BTW, good luck with that. I’m guessing she’s not planning to retire on the proceeds she will make on this gig.

My BFF was with me and she quickly jumped in to let this gal know that I had just passed my Level 1 Sommelier Certification. For whatever insane reason, the gal with the bright idea to pair wine with cannabis thought I might be interested in working with her on this new project and quickly squashed the idea by saying, “Oh no, I already have a Level 11 (emphasis on the 2) Certified Sommelier that I’m working with.” I smiled politely between gritted teeth and walked away. For the record, I have no interest in participating in her business venture but beyond that, she wouldn’t know the difference between Level 1 and Level 11 Sommelier Certification if it hit her over the head – which I was tempted to do with the wine bottle next to me.

Here’s the deal, just because you max out your credit card drinking happy hour wine and belong to an online wine club, that doesn’t make you a wine aficionado. Let’s get something straight. Do NOT diminish anyone who has mastered their Level 1 Sommelier Certification. It is work! It is good work. It is fun work. But it is nonetheless work.

In case you’re not convinced, below are five questions on the exam. Here are the rules for answering these five questions. You MAY NOT use the Internet to research the question and you MAY NOT use a reference manual. If you’re smart enough to answer these questions correctly, perhaps you’re on your way to becoming a Level 1 Certified Sommelier. Oh, by the way, this quiz is timed. You have five minutes and the time starts NOW:

1. What is veraison, and in the northern hemisphere, when does it normally happen?
2. What soil in Germany gives Riesling it’s greatest expression?
3. Name the traditional Beaujolais vinification technique for Gamay and explain its effect on the flavor and structure of the wine?
4. What is the aging system called that is used in the production of sherry?
5. Give 4 responsibilities that a Sommelier may have in a restaurant outside of service?

Please visit www.internationalsommelier.com for info on the classes and how you can sign up in your area!

Please visit our Becoming a Sommelier Sponsor at www.marriott.com/densd

springhill
Sponsor of Becoming a Sommelier

Becoming a Sommelier: Parlez-vous francais?

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by Kimberly Faye

Le professeur donna un cours sur le Moyen-Orient. To be precise, he lectured on the “Origins of French wine Law.” I would like to report that I have a clear and concise understanding of the Classifications and AOC’s but to be honest I went into class wondering, “why do I need to know the history of French wine laws and what does this have to do with becoming a Sommelier? As it turns out, after reading my homework, sitting through the lecture and watching five video’s on the subject, it is still a hazy subject but the reason for learning about it is starting to gel”.

 I’m hoping that my classmates (whom we’ve already assessed as being young enough to be my children) and who intend to use this French-wine-2196certification to further their career in the service industry, took French in college. They are going to need it. I’m using an online tool called Babbel and an app called Duolingo to help me muddle through. As a writer, I have the luxury of cutting and pasting, but for those who are serving customers in a restaurant, knowing how to pronounce Château La Mission Haut-Brion and describe the Graves region in Bordeaux, may be an intimidating task.

Reading the textbook is challenging because it describes Appellation Law and Classifications systems with connection to specific regions in France. Having only dipped by big toe in Paris on a layover from Italy on my way home to the US, I practiced enough French to ask for directions, “pour les directions” and to say “Merci” Thank you – not exactly difficult or fluent.

 So, why is it important to know about the 1855 Classification or that the Appellation Law follows  a basic French pattern of Region, District and Commune? My best response to that question is that France is the queen mother of all wines and we must pay homage. I do that in honor and humility.

 France has earned it’s seat of royalty in the wine world. With a million hectares of land under vine, winemakers from all of the great wine producing regions have mastered the world’s wine styles from dry reds to dry whites; sweet wines to fortified. After all, Champagne rules the sparking wine world… At least it does mine.

Please visit www.internationalsommelier.com for info on the classes and how you can sign up in your area!

Please visit our Becoming a Sommelier Sponsor at www.marriott.com/densd

springhill