tasting and studying

I’ve been out of touch for a while, primarily because I registered for the August Introductory level exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers in Washington, DC.  Any free time I have to devote to wine, during which I would normally be writing here, has been spent with my nose in a book or in a glass.  The study guide that the Court sent me is 22 pages; I recommend that they trim it down to one page with one sentence: “You should study everything.”

I certainly did not register for the exam without a decent base of knowledge of varietals, regions, and vineyards, but raising that knowledge up a few notches has proven to be a humbling, and quite rewarding, experience.  Burgundy…yeah, yeah – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanée Conti – got it.  Oh wait, how many Grand Crus are there in Chablis?  And what’s the link between Corton and Ladoix-Serrigny?  Yes, I have some studying to do.

Wine is one of those fields where the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.  I felt that way a lifetime ago (so it feels) when I was trying to wrap my brain around astrodynamics.  I know that I love the wines of Italy’s Piedmont, that those wines are made from the Nebbiolo grape, and that the great powerhouse communes of that area are Barolo and Barbaresco.  I also love that I can peel back layer after layer of knowledge and information about that area – its history, tradition, culture, geography – and still only scratch the surface of what makes Nebbiolo such a beautiful wine.

Kate and I conducted a tasting with another couple this weekend during which we drank some superb wines and learned a lot about new world and old world styles.  We covered France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.  Unlike astrodynamics, this is the kind of studying I can really appreciate.

So if my postings get a little sparse leading up to August, it’s because I am flipping through flashcards (love the Flashcards Deluxe app for iPad and iPhone), reading through Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible, or recording tasting notes to understand the influence of climate on Sauvignon Blanc grown in Sancerre versus Marlborough.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and look forward to sharing some insights along the way.


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