I’m the Armchair Sommelier. I assigned myself that moniker four years ago, when I first started blogging. I wanted to be a sommelier, but I lacked any kind of real wine credential. Here it is, four years later, and I’ve earned a first (and, knock on wood, a second) wine credential. But I’ve also had a wine epiphany:
I don’t want to be a sommelier.
Yep, you read that right.
Let me explain . . .
This is my entry in the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC29). The theme this month is Winestory. It was chosen by last month’s winner, John of Pairs With: Life. We’re supposed to answer Yoda’s question to Luke Skywalker: “I am wondering … why are you here?” You know, at the corner of Wine and Writing.
I fell in love with wine over a quarter-century ago (wait, that makes me sound really old, let’s just go with over 2o years ago), and I have never fallen out of love. Every bottle of wine (even the pink one that tastes like Capri-Sun) is an opportunity to learn something. But wine is only part of the learning. Along the way, wine gets tangled up with history, geography, culture, literature, language, art, chemistry (I don’t tangle with chemistry very often – chemistry scares me), geology, photography. The tangle and the learning are endless.
I wanted to learn more about wine (and the collateral tangle that goes along with it), but I never found the right combination of motivation and commitment to pursue a wine credential. So, I started my blog as a means to continue my own wine education. If I write it, I’ll retain it (or something along those lines). I was a teacher in a former life (high school history). I can teach myself about wine, right?
I did a lot of reading and sort-of-studying. But, to borrow a handful of words from Albert Einstein, the more I learned, the more I realized how much I didn’t know.
If I was going to move beyond the armchair, I needed organization, deadlines, and a looming exam. And hell, nothing motivates quite like putting some real skin (aka $$$) in the game (something else I’ve learned — wine credentials aren’t cheap).
Last spring, I passed my CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) exam. I got a fancy pin and everything. And last week, I sat for my WSET3 (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Advanced exam. Results won’t be back until February, (and I’m loathe to be over-confident), but I feel like I did well enough to pass. And get another fancy pin.
But I still don’t want to be a sommelier.
Sommeliers work nights and weekends. I’m not a night person, and I’d never see my family. And sommeliers are on their feet all the time. For someone who’s had three back surgeries (long story), this is a deal-breaker. And then there’s the heavy-lifting (wine is heavy — a case of wine weighs roughly 40 pounds, which is 30 pounds over my limit). My back and I would be done after one night.
But I love wine. And learning about wine. [Insert another epiphany.]
Provided I passed my WSET3 Exam, I plan to go on to WSET Level 4 (Diploma Award) and return to teaching as a WSET Certified Instructor (cue Circle of Life music). It’ll take me 2-3 years, but that’s my plan.
All of that will coincide nicely with my daughter going off to college and my nest becoming decidedly (gulp) empty. Adult education will be new to me, but at least I won’t have to chaperone the prom.
And the best part . . . I’ll still be the Armchair Sommelier!