Good Wine Gal - The Learning Never Stops!
Follow Your Passion
Since I fell in love with wine, that decadent, hedonistic elixir that lift spirits and accentuates a meal, I have been asking the question - how can I serve? Service has something to do with my strict Catholic upbringing which has faded with time, but it also has to do with my love of community. Considering that wine is my a mistress to my first love - food - it seems right that I find ways to inspire others to the delight that I have found from my wine life. That's why I chose to teach and share my passion.
Like many of you, I chose to study to help make sense of the confusing and overwhelming experience of wine not only in the liquor store but also in the restaurant - staring at a multilingual list of bottles and names I knew nothing about. After two years of collecting pictures and considering experiences, I enrolled in the WSET program in Vancouver. Here I experience my first ah ha moment - wine is a giant story with deep history filled with legendary characters from which a kaleidoscope of color, flavours and delight could be found. Not only this but also meeting others who were as inspired with whom I could discuss and even study. In 2012 I completed WSET level 3 - challenging for sure, and then found myself enrolled in 2015 in Diploma. After 18 months of sweat, writers cramp, flash cards, study groups and palate amelioration I passed. I swore that was it - never again.
No, there are no shortcuts! Wine is about sensory analysis. It's good if you already enjoy food with the nose and palate for a wide variety of aromas, flavours, textures and of course appearance. Wine must be tasted. For those who are serious about a wine life - taste, taste, taste. If you haven't taken a sensory course, consider it. It will light up your cerebral cortex and inspire more exploration. You may even decide to buy "Le Nez du Vin". Joining a wine club or a tasting group is also a great way to keep your palate engaged and developing.
Listen to Wine Stories
There is so much wine information. One only has to look to the Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson to realize it. The challenge part of it all - remembering. Recalling information is paramount to mastering wine. One of the best ways to remember details is to recall a story - whether to repeat or just to contextualize. History after all is based on facts - like Phylloxera - can't be denied. Stories can come from friends who share their wine experiences and of course listening to a wine podcast winemaker video or hanging out on a zoom call a great way to keep learning. You might find out that wine production for a particular vintage makes the wine in your glass even more precious. Information is a moving target and in wine - every year we have news.
Read About Wine
There are many wine writers, classic wine books that every wine lover should have and wine publications both on and off line that are there for the taking. Just because you have completed your Diploma in wine does not mean that you are finished. In all likelihood you realize that the more you know - the more you don't know. And that is why I continue to taste, listen and read. In fact, now I write for publications and for myself. It's one way to stay relevant and up to date with wine.
One of the most interesting places to find characters in the wine space sharing their passion is YouTube. That's where I discovered the "unknown winecaster" (love him) and my most recent interest Konstantin Baum, a recent Master of Wine who talks and tastes wine with attitude.
You can now find Good Wine Gal's recorded wine sessions on YouTube.