Having spent the better part of my weekends and evenings over the course of three months reading a British textbook devoted to wine, I wonder, what did I gain? Sure, I have a new fancy pin, and am one step closer to being a “Master of Wine,” but I’m not looking to change careers through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). I wanted to learn for learning’s sake (hence, the “wine geek” title). So, what did I gain? Here’s my top three things:
THE DISTINCT BEAUTY OF CALI WINES: While I will always be a Cali wine lover at heart, WSET helped me appreciate the purest representative of noble varietals, a huge focus of the course. WSET hones in on the classic distinctions of vitis vinifera, whether it be a Côte-Rôtie Syrah, a Amarone della Valpolicella, or a German Riesling. Mastering the old world allowed me to appreciate the unique beauty of California wine. I have a much better understanding of why a mediterranean climate, coupled with the specific terrain of the Santa Lucia Highlights results in a very different yet equally delicious glass of Pinot Noir, as compared to a glass of a Nuits-Saint-Georges burgundy.
ABILITY TO SPEAK WINE GEEK: I have found great enthusiasm for my wine knowledge from friends, family, and colleagues. Maybe they are just humoring me, but many people have asked me for wine advice and want to learn more about what’s in their glass. There is a desire to translate the esoteric (i.e. pretentious) nature of wine into plain language. And now, I can not only speak about my passion, but I can do so with a bit more validity.
AN ANTHROPOLOGY DEGREE IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE: Yes, I was an anthropology major in college. It was the late nineties, the economy was booming, and jobs were plenty. During undergrad, I took courses like “Symbols and Consciousness” and “Japanese Gardens: Myth and Memory” (for the record, I had a job two months after graduation). Fifteen years later, I realize the wine world is really just drinkable anthropology coupled with history, agriculture, chemistry, and business acumen. It represents not just the culture of a particular place, but the heart and soul of a community. Wine is anthropology in a glass. It seems so obvious now that I would be a wine lover given my unending enthusiasm for humanity’s social and cultural values.
Cheers to the WSET! All they need now is a spiffy reality show.