Yikes. Got an email from Ian at LearnAboutWine - 'Can you quit your job and take this class?' Um...no, can't quit the day job yet, but I can take a couple of vacation days to learn about Spanish wines. This was a certification program presented by the Wine Academy Spain. I spoke to the boss, who has actively supported my wine ventures from the very beginning, and took Monday and Tuesday to broaden my horizons in the wine world. My good friend and colleague, Debra B., was also taking the class, and as it turned out, I knew a few other folks in the class, so it was friendly and mostly fun.
The Wine Academy of Spain is a private organization founded in 2003. Its activities focus in five principal areas: Education and training of wine professional and enthusiasts, the international promotion of the Spanish wine industry, promotion of Spain as a wine and tourism destination, climate change and its impacts in the wine industry, and educational trips to wine regions.
What was really challenging for the whole class (21 of us) was to go thru the entire country of Spain - history, wine market, grape varieties, soils, elevations, methods, and a jillion D.O.s (Denominacion Origens), and try to remember anything by the end of the second day and the final exam. The carrot at the end of this particular stick was a free trip to Spain (airfare not included) to the highest scoring student. I'll just end the suspense now, as I'm pretty sure I didn't ace the final, although I'm also pretty sure I passed. I'll know in a few weeks, and I'll share the the joy or sorrow, whichever happens.
There were 13 modules, over 50 wines, followed by a 50-question exam including a blind tasting of 6 wines. Easy, right? Our instructor, Javier Arauz, the Managing Director of New Spain Wines, raced thru the syllabus at breakneck speed with a charming and thick Castilian accent. By the end of the first day, our heads were exploding. We had gone thru the Spanish wine market, Aragon, Navarra, Galicia and the Basque country, the Levante and Murcia, the Canary and Balearic Islands, Castille and Leon.
Day two, we sped thru Cava (sparkling wines!), Catalonia, La Mancha (windmills!), Rioja, Extremadura, Madrid, and Andalusia, and spent a very interesting time learning about Jerez or Sherry - how it's made and all the different degrees/types of Sherry. One thing I know for sure now is that I really don't like dry Sherry. Who knew?
Then the exam. Javier and Ian threw us out of the Loft for 30 minutes while they reset the room. During the break, we all feverishly went thru our notes - most of which I don't even remember writing, it was all so fast! I think the exam wasn't really that hard, but my brain was so fried, I'll be happy if I just pass.
Despite the brain overload, I definitely came away with a whole lot more information about Spain and its wines than I previously had. And now I have a baseline so that I can continue to do more research.
So good luck to my fellow students - I hope at least one of you turns out to be one of the highest scorers and gets to go to Spain. In the meantime, Ian is planning a trip to Spain later this year - you should check out his event and go if you can: LearnAboutWine Spain
I think I'll have a glass of Tempranillo now. Salut!