Update on this Wino’s Journey

I wasn’t going to make an announcement here until I got my hands on it. Feels more official that way, but it’s not going to be for a while. When the WSET 3 exam time ran out, I felt relieved for a split second followed by worry for a few days. I failed, I thought.

Back in February, I got the official word… I passed the WSET 3 exam!

Woot! Yes, I passed! Not only that, I achieved merit, which means my mark was anywhere between 65% to 79%. I was so happy! I’m still happy. These past few weeks though, I’ve been thinking about how I can improve without the stress. I’m not ready to take on level 4. I need a break from the intensity and there’s an outlying part of this journey that I want to visit. You can’t argue that wine doesn’t greatly enhance the gastronomic experience. So, although I plan on pursuing my wine studies further, I think I need to become more of a foodie. I have to admit that my knowledge of spices and ingredients is limited to Asian cuisine. This pursuit should be enjoyable enough. I am a food monster, after all! I want to refine myself in said arena to be a more well-rounded information source, and to discover even more delights in the marriage of food and wine.

What does all this mean? I’m paying more attention to what is in my food and the preparation of it when I go out to eat. I’m experimenting with new recipes, more so than before. And for the time being, I’m slowing down this journey, savouring it. I’ve been shy about writing food pairings, and this would be the perfect opportunity to change that. Hope you’ll continue to follow along.

Happy New Year!

Oh, hi! Happy new year! Yup, I’m still here. Thanks for checking in 🙂 I hope you had a grand holiday season and had some tasty wines. You know I did.

If how you spend your new year’s eve is an indication of what the following year will be like, 2014 is going to be absolutely fabulous for me. I spent the days leading up to the new year in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Woodinville in Washington.

Anxious to taste Willamette Pinot Noirs, we booked a two night hotel in Portland arriving the evening before and sampled the Valley’s wines for a day. In short, we weren’t disappointed.

Willamette Pinot Noir Glasses

Riedel makes specific glasses  for Willamette Pinot Noir.

While talking to a the personable and knowledgeable guys at Dobbes tasting room in Dundee, we discovered we weren’t saying Willamette the way they do. Theatrically, they exclaimed, “It’s the Willamette, damn it!”

Dobbes Family Estates

Make sure to visit Dobbes when you’re in the Willamette Valley.

Although Portland is a pretty city and only about a 40 minute drive north of Dundee, my next visit will have me staying in the actual wine region. It’s easier to discover so much more of the region that way!

When we visited Woodinville, we stayed at the Hyatt House in Redmond, WA, just a short 15 minute drive away. To give you an idea where that is, Woodinville is about half an hour north of Seattle. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, we spent two full days walking from tasting room to tasting room. I love the concept of a bunch of tasting rooms in a concentrated area.

Columbia winery

Outside the Columbia tasting room in Woodinville. Next to it are other tasting rooms.

The vineyards aren’t in Woodinville. There are wineries and there’s a good concentration of just tasting rooms in the centre of town. What a great concept having tasting rooms to expose the region’s wines to a greater population (in this case Seattle). Would love to see something like this in the Vancouver area!

This year, I want to visit more wine regions, combining my passion for travel and wine. And I want to keep with this blog going. Are you guys enjoying my posts? What else would you like to read or learn about?

Make sure you come back next Wednesday as I dive further into my travels in the Willamette and Woodinville.

How I’m Studying for WSET 3

Acck! Kicking myself for not registering for WSET 3 earlier so I would’ve gotten the books earlier and would’ve read everything well before classes commenced. Not sure where I’m going to find the time and I’m simply, at this point, playing catch up. I can’t change that now, but what I can change is how I approach my studying and this blog for the next few weeks.

I’m struggling in this course and maintaining my weekly schedule of updating this blog eats away at the little study time I have.

Russian Blue Cat, Fancy.

I likely have this expression when the teacher asks me a question I don’t know the answer to. This is my cat, Fancy. She’s pretending like she didn’t know it’s wrong to scratch the couch.

A light bulb went on the other day as I was stressing out about how I’m going to learn everything in the limited time.

Along with blind tasting and multiple choice, part of the WSET 3 exam is short answers. We could be asked to discuss any topic from the wine making process, to a country’s region, to sherry, or to the naming conventions found on the label in a given part of the world. It can be on anything in the book and I need to know every detail written in there. That frightens me.

I’ve been sharing tidbits of what I’m learning in my weekly posts, but going forward until the exam date approaches, you’ll see daily posts from me Monday to Friday.

But wait, didn’t I just say blogging takes from my precious studying time? Let me explain how I’m approaching this. I’m going to focus on a topic and then write a blog post on it. My daily posts will likely be less than 200 words starting off, unless — or rather, until l I become a brilliant WSET 3 wine monster.

This challenge will not only help me retain the information, it’ll also keep you, hopefully, entertained and learn a few things along the way.

Are you on Instagram? Fancy is! Her handle is @fancy__p. I’m on it, too @VinoVanny. Follow us!

Is WSET Level 3 Difficult?

WSET Level 3 booksExcuse my filthy mouth, but WSET 3 is so fucking hard. It’s not something to take lightly like level 1 and maybe level 2. I thought the latter was difficult, but it has nothing on level 3.

I just can’t keep up with the reading material and can’t seem to retain the information. I learn something new practically every sentence. Seriously, whole chapters are highlighted. There’s also the full-time job thing and exercise to fit in my life as well. And the social life? Kicked to the curb for now.

If you visited my about page, you’ll know I thought I didn’t do very well in level 2. I am experiencing this lack of confidence again in level 3. Feeling this is good, though despite how uncomfortable I feel when the teacher asks me a question I don’t know the answer to. It means I’m being challenged.

Having talked to someone who has passed it, as well as going through this myself, I know there’s no trick to passing this. It’ll come from hard work over time. And that’s what I’m struggling with right now. But you know what they say, anything worthwhile is not easy.

This may seem like a wishy washy, what the hell is the point of this? post — I hope it’s not. I’m trying to stay true to my goal for this blog and it’s to show you that regardless of what you know, there will always be something to learn, so don’t sweat it. There will always be someone who knows more than you. If you want to speak with more confidence, you have to put in the time. It’s just like being healthy and fit. You need to put time in the gym and work hard while you’re there. Just like anything else in life.

Real life friends, don’t forget about me, please!!! I’m sorry I won’t be available until the end of November to hang out. In the meantime, and this is an invitation to everyone, follow me on Twitter and Instagram.