Hey guys! My blog has been excruciatingly quiet and is in need of some great food and drink. I hope you’ll forgive the lull!
I feel like the days slip through my fingers quicker than water and another month passes into my 30’s. Mostly good things are keeping me busy, like recently passing a final exam to quaify as an Italian sommelier. (!)
This was one of my happiest moments, symbolic for several reasons. Mainly, it was wine which brought me to Florence 6 years ago. And now I am at a point where I’d like to move on to a new phase in my life- and expand to embark on a different chapter. Where or how this will proceed, I have no idea. My gut is telling me something new is about to happen, and I will follow wherever this instinct drives me until I can open and begin to read from its script.
So now as I feel at a sort of unknown turning point, closing the circle with becoming a sommelier seems significant.
Before I came to Florence, I wasn’t sure I’d ever make my dream of moving to Italy come true. I had graduated from University and landed a well-paid sales rep’ing gig- I didn’t see much incentive to leave a comfortable life behind of a solid salary, a new car, a comfortable living situation with roommates and a community I loved dearly to move to a country with so much economic and bureaucratic drama (Italy, I’m lookin’ at you)
But as luck would have it, I was abruptly let go from said gig (biggest blessing in disguise) and I decided to stop taking stupid jobs I wasn’t passionate about just for the money and go to culinary school. I signed up for food & wine pairing classes as part of a certificate program and started working for a start-up wine on tap distributor doing sales. I also began to moonlight as a food tour guide and started getting consistent with my blog. Then I saw a flyer around the wine academy to study in Florence- this was my ticket, my window of opportunity.
So I came, struggled a lot, been humiliated even more but eventually rose above and kicked every negative, judgmental ass I could prove wrong. 6 years later here I am with a certificate as an Italian sommelier.
The course lasted 9 months but I started it about a year and a half ago with a summer breaking up the months. When I started, I was pretty arrogant and thought “oh this will be a breeze- I’ve taken wine courses before!” WRONG!
This was one of the most humbling experiences for me. The courses were all held in Italian at night once a week and a lot of material from the science behind wine growing & making, to harvesting methods for specific wines, to memorizing all the sub-zones of important wine regions from the Valtellina to the Amalfi Coast, fermentation styles and hundreds of wines from Italy to Australia. The course teaches us to analyze wine as a sommelier (and not just a wine snob) with all the terms in Italian, which was a pain in itself! Not to mention- the service component was huge! Graceful details to how your elbow sits at your side to the angle in which you stand at the person you pour for were a challenge for a clumsy person like myself.
I am super grateful for the humiliating experience this course gave me. I strangely enjoy the challenge of formality presents. I also respect associations like FISAR even more- they don’t just give the title to anyone- you have to work for it. I do have some critiques on the didactic approach, which is more of a criticism to the Italian system in general. The system is set up where you follow lectures and a final test at the end. Passing a course seems basically like a game of memorization. I firmly believe retention would be better if there were more intermittent group exercises or periodic quizzes. But at the same time, by having to study for everything at the chance of being asked a few questions at random- does force you to study comprehensively.
Another reason my blog has been quiet is apart from working like a crazy person, I’m on a never-ending mission to shed some kilos I’ve adopted the last few years. I’m not sure if it’s working but I definitely feel healthier and stronger. I’ve cut back on drinking a lot, ironically the most at the last leg of my sommelier training, and eating out way less while making loads of healthy foods at home. The gym is now an addiction. As long as I live the healthiest I can with indulgences occasionally- this is all which matters. Life is short!
My current kick is preparing meals with artichokes and cooking with lemon. The great part of eating more artichokes is only water pairs with them, wine is a terrible pairing for artichokes. So naturally, the more I eat them for meals the less wine I have with dinner. Ha!
I’ll try to share some recipes and ideas posts on what to do with artichokes- but next week I’ll be in VinItaly so I’ll try before I head off!
Are you curious about Vinitaly? Let me know in the comment section what you’d like to see from the event or know about how to plan a visit/how to navigate VinItaly- I’ll be your personal wine spy!
Until next time!
In your sommelier trust,
Hey! Curious about Italian wine and coming to Florence? Sign up for a Curious Appetite food & wine pairing tasting walks- they are led by sommeliers in Florence!