I am in need of recovery. Lest that sound like I am more of an alcoholic than I believe myself to be, let me clarify: I need more wine in my life, not less. I must recover from my recent withdrawal.
The story begins nearly two years ago. Optimistic, eager, and committed, I began the third and final level of wine education offered by the International Sommelier Guild: the Sommelier Diploma program. Unfortunately, the course coincided with my return to a full time university position. After years of consulting, going back to a full time employer was a rough concept, but in choosing to do so, I held fast to my commitment, already paid for, that I would be in my wine classes nine hours a week.
Time marched on. The job soon became overwhelming – not a job, a lifestyle – and the classes became more intense. Ever more frantically trying to play catch-up, I found wine becoming a problem to solve in my life – a hurdle to overcome. The texts became dead weights, mocking me… I began to dread picking them up. Worse, wines became mere study tools – puzzles to be solved, a blur of bottles, guessed correctly and incorrectly, that got analyzed, scrutinized, sanitized, and then recycled. Was that Chard or Chenin? Rioja or Chianti? Aged or off? Every correct guess (er…analysis) was a momentary firing of pleasure neurons in the brain; every wrong answer yet another embarrassing defeat to pile onto my growing mountain of Wine Despair.
This was no way to drink.
I have no one to blame but myself. For years, I had overcommitted and then – problematically – overdelivered as well. I had become a work and volunteer zombie, saying yes to everything and then killing myself to deliver on every commitment.
But everything changed in May, 2009. I wrote a defeated email to my fabulous instructor to inform her I would be not be writing the final exams, as I was not prepared for them. Finally admitting this reality was the wakeup call I had needed, perhaps longed for subconsciously, for years. I had taken on too much and something I cared passionately about had fallen off to the side. Besides the tuition paid, the books purchased, the tastings attended, and the time invested, here was my ultimate “a-ha” moment: I LOVE WINE. I am fanatical about wine. The more I know, the more I want to know. I cannot get enough wine knowledge. My very future is wine! And yet, I had somehow allowed wine to become a chore and a significant source of stress, and then failure, in my life. How had I let it get so far off track?
Since that fateful day of walking away from my exams, I have been in a wine drought. Licking my wounds in dark corners alone (sigh), I have withdrawn from vinous delights and have mostly just made do with simple, faithful, “mid-week” standards. I have resisted every opportunity to take wine seriously. I have given myself space for grieving and recovery, to make sense of my Wine Despair.
But now I am ready to begin anew. My journey towards sommelier certification starts here, again – with me wiser, calmer, and eager once more. I have created white space in my schedule. I know I know an awful lot already – just not enough for the exams. I embrace this opportunity to drink it all in – literally and figuratively – to own the knowledge this time and passionately celebrate the opportunity to acquire it. I am determined to make this a learning adventure: an energetic, acidic, tannic, tipsy progression towards success at next spring’s Level 3 final exams. This blog will detail my learning journey.
Please join me!