About Me


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 couple of wine credentials.  But I’ve also had a wine epiphany:

don’t want to be a sommelier.

Yep, you read that right.

Let me explain.  Pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you a little about myself:

My life, in bullet points:

  • I’m a wife, and a mom to two almost grown, but not yet flown kids.
  • I’ve lived in Virginia most of my life, but I’m originally from Nebraska. Go Big Red!!
  • In a previous life, I was a high school history teacher.
  • Along with wine, I love history and photography.  I especially love it when they all get tangled up together.
  • I have a crush on Ernest Hemingway.
  • Birds are swell, too.
  • I think Tuesday is a good reason to open a bottle of Champagne.
  • I’m the one who eats chocolate Necco wafers.

My wine credentials:

  • DipWSET (Diploma, Wine & Spirit Education Trust)
  • CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine, Society of Wine Educators)

How did I get here (at the corner of wine and writing)?

every-bottle-of-wine-isI fell in love with wine over a quarter-century ago (wait, that makes me sound really old, let’s just go with over 20 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?

Sort of.

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).

Over the past few years, I passed both my CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) exam and my WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Advanced exam. I got fancy pins and everything.  And just last week, I learned that I passed my WSET Unit 3 Diploma exam, which makes me officially DipWSET.  Another fancy pin on the way!

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.

So, what’s next?  Champagne, of course!

And more Armchair Sommelier.

Thanks for stopping by, and please don’t be a stranger.  You can also contact me directly: oenophile27 AT gmail.com.



  1. Hello Armchair Somm! I really enjoy your blog and have enjoyed following your twitter feed, as well. We have many interests in common (in addition to wine!)— history, genealogy, photography, among them. And I, too, used to raise money in the non-profit sector once upon a time. I have two blogging (and twitter) identities, the other being StudioLu, where my “real” work is located. I’m noting that because sometimes I forget who I am tweeting as so you might hear from me from either place! Just wanted to say a personal hello. Cheers!


  2. thanks, that was fun! It made me miss you even more. I was a fan on facebook, but enjoyed going more in depth. REALLY enjoyed seeing the Taurasi Radicci; ahh Napoli. Looking forward to tasting in person this summer.


    1. Wine is a necessity of life . . . Thomas Jefferson was spot on about that one, wasn’t he? I imagine TJ needed quite a lot of wine, what with all that independence declaring going on. 😉 Patience to deal with teens is just one of the many things I can find in a glass (or two) of wine! And speaking of the “big glass”, there’s a wine cartoon floating around out there of a woman who is shopping for stemware and asks for a glass that’s “parent of 3 teens” size. I laughed . . . because it’s a little bit true. Cheers, Conrad!


  3. Hi there! My friends and I are thinking about planning a little party bus trip from DC to a few (2-3?) wineries. Any favorites in Northern VA that wouldn’t be too far away that we could check out in a day? Thanks for any suggestions!!
    Best, Hannah


    1. Hi Hannah,

      If you want to stick close to wineries right off I-66 (for convenience and ease of travel), you could do The Winery at Bull Run, The Winery at La Grange, and Barrel Oak Winery. They’re all lovely settings with great wines. The one thing I would do, though, is call ahead to be sure they can accommodate group tastings. A lot of VA wineries are charging more for groups of a certain number (maybe 6+). It varies. I just don’t want you to get out to a winery and find out they don’t do groups.

      My other piece of advice would be to start early (most wineries open at 11am) and get a jump on the weekend crowds, which can be considerable. After you leave the first winery, you’ll be fueled with wine-flavored patience! 😉!

      Do let me know which wineries you visit and how you like them!!



  4. I have followed your blog for a number of years. Thanks to you I got involved with #winestudio and have learned so much. I am also looking to get a wine certification. Do you recommend CSW or WSET? I am leaning toward starting with WSET level 2.
    Enjoy reading your blog and am inspired by your goal to teach as a WSET instructor.


  5. Thank you for this blog! Great advice and wonderful prose. Got a question for you…Which wineries would you recommend for eclectic crowd in NOVA… something either hidden from the normal path and/or with great ambiance but not for the usual crowds. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My favorites in Loudoun would be Casanel in Leesburg, Greenhill in Middleburg, North Gate in Purcellville, and Stone Tower in Leesburg (though that one is QUITE large). If you get out to any of them, do let me know what you think!! Cheers!


      2. Today my wife and I went to Greenhill per your recommendation and had a wonderful time! Wine was excellent, the view from the terrace was great and later on they had a concert. Thank you very much, this is now our new favorite winery in the area!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I bought a bottle of that lovely Muskat wine. What an unusual and great flavor.
    Do you recommend serving it chilled or room temperature?
    Great site,


  7. Wife and I are planning an early March trip to Williamsburg area of VA. Would like to take a two day tour of VA wineries in beautiful VA countryside. Any suggestions for such a trip? TIA


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