How I’ve Been Studying For My Intro Somm Test

Goodmorning! How have you guys been?

The year started out a bit rough as I got a nasty case of bronchitis and an ear infection that persisted for 2 weeks. Energy was low and all the excitement and motivation I had for the start of the new year (temporarily) went out the window.  Tis’ the season though and I finally feel like myself! Back to work we go.

The day after Christmas I registered for the introductory sommelier exam; a 2 day rapid review course, complete with lecture, blind tasting and service demo’s, followed by a multiple choice test at the end of the second day. I’ve had the thought of doing this for a while now but had always hesitated because I wasn’t quite sure how much knowledge and experience was needed. I’m still not completely sure but there’s no time like the present. Like anything else in life; if you want something then you have to go out and get it.

The court definitely arms you with some incredible resources. Upon signing up you receive a PDF version of the course workbook and a year membership to the Guild of Sommeliers website which is honestly the best! It has extensive content, practice quizzes, forums for study/job postings/tasting groups and in retrospect I definitely wish I would’ve purchased a membership myself when I was first getting into wine.

Flashcards have been major! After doing the quizzes online and in the workbook I write the questions/answers into a notebook and then make flashcards from there. The repetition in creating the cards is uber helpful and from then on you have the convenience of breaking out the deck whenever you have free time. In line at a store, waiting for a friend, in transit; nothing’s better. It’s also an easy way to get other people involved in your study, which definitely amps the motivation.

I haven’t been super into memorizing maps at this point but I definitely look at them when I need to figure out where places are in relation to other villages, countries, bodies of water, etc. As I go into my certified exam and beyond maps will obviously play a bigger role.

YouTube has also been a HUGE part of my study routine. I frequently look up wine related videos but I was telling a friend at work who’s in nursing school that I find nursing/med school study tip videos to be particularly helpful not because medicine and wine are same but just because of the sheer amount of information there is to know. I think the best thing I gathered from them that isn’t the usual advice is to know what is considered to be passive studying, what is active studying and how to balance the two and be time efficient in your preparation.

So that’s the short story on how I’ve been getting  ready for the  course. If any of you are studying for a CMS exam or anything else, let me know!

 

 

It’s That Time of Year! Setting Goals for 2018

Happy Holidays, loves.

This year went by ridiculously fast. I took the time to reflect on it today and despite the fact that there were many ‘downfalls’, I’m coming out of 2017 with more clarity than I think I’ve ever had. Not to say I have it all figured out but I know what I need to do to create the life I desire.

I go through phases with YouTube but regardless of if I’m super into it or not, I always make sure to regularly check out Erin Henry’s channel. Her videos are extremely motivating and she’s one of the people I look to when I’m not really sure what to do next or when I need to feel revitalized.

Her latest video about setting goals is SO worth the watch. 

She suggests splitting your goals into categories so following the template she laid out – with the small tweak of separating career from finances my goals for 2018 are

Career – Following what will hopefully be a pass of my intro sommelier exam; obtaining a job at a wine shop to dramatically increase my exposure to the business side of wine, allow me to taste more things, go to events and prepare me for the certified exam.

Financial – To pay off my car loan which is currently at $12,000. My total debt including credit cards, my car and medical bills sits around $18,000 and while it would be superb to pay that off in it’s entirety and quite fitting seeing as it’s 18k and the year is 2018; the car loan is by far the thing that make’s me the most uncomfortable. Car’s in general are not the greatest investments and given the opportunity I would not have purchased a new one after totaling my first one 2 years ago.

Relationships – This one is tricky because there’s a big self development piece that I feel like you could attach to this but my biggest relationship goal would just be to continue to be there and be present for the people who do the same for me and know when to divert some of my energy from particular people/situations that aren’t healthy or productive.

Health & Wellness – Cutting down on dairy/meat/sugar. Not interested in going back to being full fledged veg as I do work in the restaurant industry and I want to be able to experience all the joys of the culinary world but you know; just a bit of a scale back outside of that. I want to exercise outside a lot more as well.

Self -Development – Like I was saying above knowing what/who I should make myself available for is a big one!

I’m taking the steps to become more of a minimalist. Not obtaining too many new material things and purging my space of the excess I currently have through donations/sales.

I want to be a lot more involved in the community in terms of volunteering.

AND I’m going to do my absolute best to limit social media usage. This is obviously THE STRUGGLE seeing as I blog and want to grow my social media platforms but outside of writing and business endeavors I find myself just mindlessly scrolling through apps when I could easily be reading, jotting something down, running through flashcards or just having a conversation with someone who’s right in front of me.

Experiences – Something I’m really gunning for and perhaps the thing that threatens my financial goal the most is the fact that I want to get more travelling in. Italy has been the dream since I was little, In fact I hope to one day live there. A friend of mine might be studying abroad there this spring/summer and having him as a tour guide would be absolutely incredible but it will obviously come with a price tag. In addition to that I would love to make it to Portland, Colorado and perhaps even Finger Lakes, New York.

As you can see, the goals are plentiful. Now I need to work on creating the plan of action!

What are your guys goals for the new year? and how do you plan on achieving them?

 

 

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide: For Wine Lovers

So, the other day my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas and being an adult and also someone who’s pursuing their intro somm test this year (A whopping $595) my first instinct was ‘All the money!’ but that’s boring. For me gift giving is just, if not more fun than receiving. So I told her “Wine and stuff”. Into a frenzy she went, about how she doesn’t know anything about wine so she wouldn’t know where to begin. In my opinion a bottle of wine is never a bad idea. You can find amazing wine at any price point from any region so why not? But if the idea of picking out a bottle for someone is uber stressful then here are some other ideas for the wine lovers in your life.

1) Subscriptions

The gift that keeps on giving!

I’m currently loving Vinome. A combination of vino and genome; this company uses DNA analysis to ‘match’ you with bottles of wine you’ll enjoy. The program is a bit pricey as you need to purchase a membership for $29 and a helix DNA kit which ranges in price but will typically fall around $80. It’s a sweet concept though and could definitely be worth the splurge!

Another fan favorite: Winc (Formerly Club W) Every month, they deliver 4 hard to find and totally delicious bottles to your doorstep, with no shipping fee or membership costs!

Don’t forget the good ole’ magazine subscriptions: Wine Enthusiast & Somm Journal are two publications that any cork dork would be thrilled to find in their mailbox.

2) Art

Someone who’s absolutely killing the wine art game is Elysia Myers. Elysia uses real wine to create gorgeous abstract art pieces. She’s been selling on Instagram for quite a while but just in time for the holiday’s she’s created a new website. Check it out!

Etsy is the perfect place to find wine themed gifts while supporting small business’s: I mean, look at this stuff!

3) Books

One of my biggest passions outside of wine is reading. I will never get over how awesome it feels to curl up with a great book and just get completely lost in it.

Here are the one’s that I’ve recently read and loved!

Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker

WINE. All the Time – Marissa A. Ross

The Dirty Guide to Wine – Alice Feiring w/ Pascaline Lepeltier

In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire – Peter Hellman

 

 

Can You Tell The Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Wines?

I know it’s been a minute and I technically have been an awful blogger thus far but the thought of writing more informative pieces with no one reading them was a tad bit awkward so after my initial launch I spent a bit of time advertising. Not to say I have a ton of traffic yet but atleast I’m not just talking to myself.

The question posed in the title is one that people have asked me many times and a question that I’ve been curious about myself as I’ve had superb and subpar wines at various price points. There’s so many factors and isn’t tasting subjective, anyways?

Bianca Bosker explores this question in her book, ‘Cork Dork’. I’m alittle over halfway done and so far it’s one of the best wine books that I’ve ever gotten my hands on. Writing about wine in a way that’s uber informative while not making the reader bored to tears can be hard to do but BB pulls it off.

She started by posing the question to wine economist and NYU professor, Karl Storchmann. He states that price does indeed correspond with quality but only up until to his estimated price of $50 or $60 a bottle; the point in which the location, production, harvesting, aging techniques and general quality control are taken up a notch.  Storchmann’s Journal of Wine Economics collaborator, Orley Ashenfelter was quoted saying that “Anything that costs $500, is not about wine. You’re not buying wine. That’s a collectible.”

Wine consulting companies that make use of “quality recognition software” are discredited as the formulas they use to figure out which wines are ‘the best’ will usually only pertain to a certain type of palate. Same goes for wine critics, who score wines based on their own personal taste alone.

During the first season of Uncorked, the sommeliers were asked during a challenge to identify what wines were village, premier cru and grand cru. They all nailed it.

On the flip side you have instances where people are drinking the contents of a spit bucket and think it’s some masterpiece of a bottle. Ew…..

So perhaps the ability to decipher cheap and expensive wines is possible but entirely individual. Overall, I do believe that a distinction can be made between wines that we as individuals think are good and wines that are actually high quality. Looking at the 3 key attributes of balance, complexity and finish one can determine how sound a wine is. Quality wines will have an array of flavors, that are in harmony with eachother and the wine will linger on the palate after you’ve swallowed it.

What do you guys think?

 

 

 

Killing The Wine Game in Wisco

Wine is currently being produced in all 50 states. When you think of solid wines, does Wisconsin come to mind? Probably not but with good reason.

Jack wasn’t making stuff up in Titanic when he told Rose that we have some of the coldest winters around. The weather is less than ideal but Wollersheim Winery/Distillery located in Prairie Du Sac, WI is doing things. It’s a freaking gem; rich in history, traditions and family values.

It all started in the 1840’s when Hungarian nobleman Agoston Haraszthy discovered the land that the winery sits on today and planted it with grapevines. He was only in WI a short time as he went where the money was and followed the Gold Rush to California where his impact on winemaking led him to be known as the “Father of California Viticulture”. German immigrant Peter Kehl took over and was succeeded by his son Jacob who continued to make wine and eventually brandy. Following Jacobs passing and a harsh winter the Kehl family converted the winery to a conventional farm. Robert and JoAnn Wollersheim bought the farm from Peter Kehl’s great-grandson in 1972 and restored it to a working winery. Philippe Coquard swooped in from Beaujolais on an agricultural exchange and in all his expertise became the winemaker in 1985. Today the winery is owned and operated by Philippe, his wife Julie, Bob and Joann’s eldest daughter.

Featuring converted fermentation/bottling rooms, the recently renovated historic hillside wine cave that was started by Harazsthy and finished by the Kehls and a fairly new distillery; the winery is now considered a national historic sight.

The Grapes: Wollersheim grows two French-American red hybrids Marechal Foch and Leon Millot and two Wisconsin-native American white hybrids, St. Pepin and LaCrosse. All of which are able to survive the winter. Go them!

They also work with vineyards in New York and Washington State to custom grow Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. And in 2013 collaborated with a California vineyard to produce Carignan.

Hard facts aside, the vineyard was absolutely gorgeous. The wine was phenomenal and despite buying many things; we didn’t spend a ton of money. Thanks for the great time, Wollersheim!

The Source

 

The Ultimate Boss Babe

There’s literally nothing more inspiring to me than women who not only kick ass in their own lives but motivate other women to do so. Contrary to what other people or you yourself may think; her success is not your failure.

This is one of many notions that master life coach, author, speaker and ultimate boss babe Cara Alwill Leyba drives home on her beautiful blog; The Champagne Diet, her bestselling books and the podcast ‘Style Your Mind’. She rocks Chanel, pink hair and is always unapologetically herself. She dishes out some real talk on the daily and although it’s not always what you might want to hear it’s absolutely what you need to hear and it always comes at just the right time.  I recently finished her latest book, ‘Girl Code’ thanks to the recommendation from my friend Kirsten who’s ‘Girl Crush Collective’ Facebook group read it as part of their online book club. It was a complete game changer and made me realize that as of late I was becoming complacent, accepting things as they are and giving into feelings, people and situations that were no longer serving me in a positive or a productive way.

Will definitely elaborate on that later.

No matter where you are in your life, whatever your pursuits may be I guarantee Cara will light a fire under you.

Down The Rabbit Hole

When I was 19 I got hired to be a server at a new casino restaurant that’s focus was going to be on local and sustainable ingredients. A real trendy farm to table type deal. As with any new restaurant we had full menu tastings and rather extensive beverage training. It was the last hour of every day and seeing that I wasn’t 21; all I got to do was take notes while everyone else drank their faces off. I looked forward to it none the less because the beverage director was everything! A certified sommelier, studying for his advanced exam: Crazy passionate, with an air of confidence and grace that I still probably don’t but definitely did not posses back then.

I remember the first wine tasting we had. Another server who had just came from managing a chain restaurant of some sort sat across from me picked up one of the 3 glasses we all had in front of us, swirled the contents around and brought it up to her nose. She started to spout off all of these descriptors. Black fruit, basement, rotten forest floor.

Uh, what now?

I was super confused but also was not about to let everyone know that I was a total amateur (lol because what else would you expect from someone who’s not of legal drinking age) so I picked up the glass and emulated what she did. ‘Smells like rubbing alcohol to me’….

The rep finished pouring everyone’s tastings and picked up one of his glasses, doing the same ‘routine’ that the girl had just done but adding even more adjectives.

He then went on to tell the story about the winery, the family, the region, grapes and so on.  Something as simple as fermented grape juice and yet there’s so much history, science, art, economics and politics behind every bottle. I was extremely curious about wine at this point but had just finished a CNA course and was planning to pursue nursing so I resolved that I would learn what I needed to know for the job and just continue to focus on my studies.

Some time passed and it was becoming apparent to me that nursing was not my jam. I freaked out. This was the path I had chosen; everyone knew it. The thought of letting my family, friends and teachers down was so overwhelming that at one point I just decided that going through with something I despised and could not see myself doing for any period of time was better than appearing to be a failure. In the end I didn’t even forgo nursing school because you know it’s my life and I know what’s best for me; I let go of it because there’s so many brilliant, compassionate people who feel like it is their life calling to take care of people; day in and day out and they are the one’s who need to be in that position.

So fast forward to a very unassuming day complete with sushi, tea and Netflix. I’m scrolling through the ‘popular now’ lineup and Somm pops up.

The description read;

Four sommeliers embark on an all-consuming course of study for the prestigious (and nearly impossible to pass) Master Sommelier exam.

My attention span is pretty crap and I typically do other things while shows and movies play in the background but I got sucked in, completely enamored by the people the movie followed and the complete immersion/dedication that goes into becoming a master somm. Thirsty for more I googled ‘sommeliers’ and down the rabbit hole I went.