Sunday, June 20, 2010

Diary of a Sommelier Student-1st Level-Mission Accomplished

It has been awhile since I wrote about my first level sommelier course. Not to worry, I hung in there. After 14 lessons, I took the exam and am ready to move on to the second level.

I remember when I started the course. I was nervous, concerned about the difficulties of taking a course in another language. Concerned about the technical/scientific terminology that can be confusing in English as well as Italian.

But I made it through…

As I look back on the last 3 months, the Monday evenings spent on level C of Hotel Ramada, downtown Naples, I look back with admiration.

Ais Napoli gave me enormous opportunities for one who is curious about this wine world. High quality instructors such as Antonio Del Franco (current Ais Campania President), Nicoletta Gargiulo (Italy’ Best Sommelier 2007 and Ais Campania President candidate), Lucia Pintatore, Maria Sarnataro, Alessandro Palmieri, and Francesco Martusciello (winemaker Grotte del Sole).  The leadership of Elena Erman and Ais Napoli president Tommaso Luongo...

Amazing wines to degustare from throughout Italy with expert guidance and leadership as we completed our Ais technical cards…at first with difficulty then, piano piano...with confidence.

Down to earth Sommelier class assistants; Luca Massimo Bolondi, Giorgio Napolitano, and Stefania Comes. Always there with smiles, words of advice and encouragement.

This course opened my eyes to what it takes to be a sommelier. We learned about wine…but starting from the soil, the vine, the cantina, the bottle, the glass. We learned how to taste a wine. To describe it technically. To really look, smell, taste what before we may have taken for granted.

We learned that we have a lot to learn…and I look forward to the second level course to begin…I think I’m hooked.

So though I’ve set washed my wine tasting glasses and packed them away in my Ais winetatsing briefcase, it aint over. I need to praticare

Before I took this class, I wrote Angelo Di Costanzo (Best Sommelier, Campania 2008 and Sommelier Hotel Capri Palace). I asked him for advice, He wrote that I should ‘Drink wine.’ I thought he was joking. Now I realize how important that advice was. And I told him so.

Antonio Del Franco pointed that out as well during our first lesson. That our course will be sort of a preschool. That we will need to train like athletes do. So, this summer, I’ll be in the cantinas, at wine tastings, in the vineyards. Mini field trips, if you will, to see up close, first hand, what is in our textbooks. To look, see smell da vicino..

So though the 1st level is complete, this journey has just begun.

And I am enjoying the ride…

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