I’m slightly past the halfway point in my Wine and Spirits Education Trust Level 3 certification course. It’s been quite an interesting journey so far. On so many levels.
First, there’s the studying part of the program. Before you start the course they explain quite clearly that there’s a lot of studying required to pass the exam. Because this is a certification I want to obtain, I am studying diligently. In the nine weeks since the course began, I think I’ve taken three days off from studying. Otherwise you’ll find me blocking an hour every day to read, make maps, create flashcards, and quiz myself.
Second, there’s the retention of the aforementioned information. There’s sooo much to learn. Just when I think that I have mastered a region, say Bordeaux, there’s another region added to the list. Every week is this roller coaster of knowledge. On any given day I might feel 80% secure in my retention of data. Then the next day I begin a new section, and I feel 20% secure, as I have so much to learn. That’s where the whine part happens. I don’t truly whine, but I may have been heard to say that I don’t know nearly enough. Perhaps even in a whiny-ish voice.
Third, there’s the long-term plan for me. I honestly don’t know how I’ll work this newfound wine knowledge into my career, but I definitely want to make it happen. Now isn’t the time to ponder that; there’s too much else to be doing (see the two paragraphs above). However, as I go through this course, I want to fully absorb all that I’m learning. I want this information to become part of my brain’s database. Thus, as I study I’m trying to make this wine knowledge part of my being and not just material learned for an exam.
Fourth, I am working on wine tasting. The instructors assure us that it isn’t the most difficult part of the exam, but I worry. On the positive side I do think I’ve improved; I know how to taste and search for floral notes, herbal aromas, and secondary and tertiary flavors. However, I still find it tricky to determine certain things, such as is that wine medium bodied? Medium+? Thus, I’ll keep practicing.
Fifth, people don’t necessarily understand what I’m doing. They all assume it’s fun, fun, fun! Yay, you get to drink wine! I mean, I did just mention that I need to keep practicing wine tasting. Unfortunately drinking wine and tasting wine are two totally different things. Plus, there’s more to this course than tasting/drinking wine. There are the multiple hours I spend studying, but that’s probably like most jobs. From the outside you see the fun stuff. It’s not until you’re in the thick of it that you see all of the effort required.
As I enter week ten of this course, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn something new, to fulfill a passion, to possibly expand my career. Earning a certification such as this isn’t meant to be an easy, check the box sort of thing. The work will be worth the end result.