I've always liked wine and have come a long way from only drinking sweet wines - no offense to those that do, no #WineShaming here - I still love them but have grown to love dry wines also. In October 2020, I took a leap into wine education after becoming intrigued in the art of wine pairing. For the Vacays & Vittles and Good Vibes Dinner Parties collaboration "Come Thru," one of the major selling points is finding the perfect wine(s) to go with each of the courses our chefs prepare.
I've spent plenty of time wandering around aimlessly in the wine stores, mispronouncing names and trying to guess flavors and on all of the "Googles" trying to research my way into finding the perfect wines for our guests and it was frustrating (to say the least). There are plenty of "standard pairing guides" out there, but I wanted to ensure even the smallest nuances of the foods we served complimented the wines and that we serve some fun and not well known varietals.
One day, I went to Off The Rox (a wine store in Baltimore, MD) with my list of googled wines in hand, ready to stare at the walls of wine until one of them jumped out at me. Thankfully, the staff there are super knowledgeable and they helped me narrow down my options and introduce me to new ones. I was able to explain to them exactly what the courses were like, down to the ingredients and spices in each dish and with that, they didn't just hand me a bottle and send me on my way - they actually explained WHY those particular varietals from those particular regions would stand up well next to the food we were serving. I was in heaven!!!
After that, I googled (of course) wine education schools and ended up signing up for the Wine Spirit and Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 virtual course thru the Capital Wine School in Washington, DC. From November to mid-December, I was a wine drinking fool and loved every minute of it. Along with the computer based training, discussion forums and quizzes, there were plenty of hands-on wine drinking, *ahem* ASSESSING, to do for homework and it was awesome.
I even got my friends to join in on the fun (and to help me from having multiple opened bottles of wine sitting around the house). They had no complaints as they got to drink lots of wine with me and actually learn some new things about wine as I was learning them from class.
The final exam was held a week after the class ended and I was so nervous. It had to be proctored virtually and the rules were very straightforward and strict to help ensure there was no cheating. After getting everything set up properly, I felt more at ease once the test actually started and the time went by quickly. Unfortunately, they don't give you your score right then and there, you must wait six to eight weeks. I'm assuming it is to review the virtual proctoring information to make sure everything is above board.
I am signed up for Level 2 starting mid January and I probably won't get my official results back from Level 1 until maybe early February but the show must go on! I am looking forward to diving deeper into the world of wine and learning ALL OF THE THINGS. I don't know what the future holds for me and my newfound wine knowledge, but I am enjoying the journey thus far.
Check out my IG page @ShaysPourDecisions to follow me and see what I've been drinking!