I distinctly remember the day I discovered that wine could be an integral part of a meal. I was home from college and my dad had cooked our traditional Saturday night meal – grilled steak, baked potatoes and salad. Dad decided that I was now old enough to share in wine with dinner and opened a lovely Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, a full-bodied red that paired perfectly with the expertly cooked ribeye. I was in heaven and my palate was opened to a whole new world.
I casually studied wine, trying new things, attending wine tastings with friends and listening intently any time someone was willing to share their knowledge with me. But my understanding of wine was very haphazard until I attended my first TEXSOM conference in 2012. This annual conference for area sommeliers, industry professionals and wine enthusiasts has excellent programming and if you want to learn about wine, attendance is a must.
At the beginning of that first conference, I participated in a session on blind tasting, the practice of tasting wine without knowing what varietal it is or where it was from. I could not believe all of the subjects the sommeliers had to know at a very detailed level – geology, geography, agriculture, climatology and everything about food. I was awed.
As I left the session, my brain was swimming, overwhelmed by the amount of information I’d just ingested. I was happy that I knew more than I thought I did (I knew four of the six varietals in one tasting), and I was hooked. I wanted to know more.
Over the last two years, I have soaked up everything I can about wine through the outstanding programs at the TEXSOM conference (2013 notes), panels at the Austin Food & Wine Festival and blind tastings like The Sip, organized by fellow writer and Certified Sommelier Matt McGinnis. As much as I’ve learned from these experiences, I knew I still had big gaps in my knowledge.
Egged on by fellow writers who have already taken the plunge and encouraged by the local sommelier community, I’ve decided it’s time to get serious about wine. This year before the TEXSOM conference I’m taking the Introductory Sommelier Course and Exam offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
I’m both excited and nervous. I’m intimidated because I don’t work in the industry and I’m studying like a mad woman to make up for it. You want to get odd looks at the gym? Read a wine atlas on the elliptical at 6:30 am.
Needless to say, you can expect to see more about wine on the blog, particularly about the Texas winemakers who are winning international accolades. And, feel free to join in on the studying. I’ll be posting updates to Facebook and Twitter as I work my way through the study materials. This week’s lessons were on Australia, New Zealand and South Africa so orderly accordingly.
Cheers to this new adventure!