We heard that you recently received a new wine qualification. Could you tell us about it?
Recently, I undertook the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET London) Level 3 Award in Wines, which is an advanced level qualification for wine professionals. After a challenging 84 hours of advanced level study and a 2.5 hour final exam, including written and blind tasting, I was thrilled to graduate with the highest possible honours: Distinction.
That’s terrific! When did you first become interested in wine?
I first became interested in the late 1970s when we drank wines with names like Baby Bear and Canada Duck. They were hardly fine table wines, but it sparked my interest.
So, where did you go from there with your wine drinking?
My world changed at the age of 18 when I fell in love with fine wine. An opportunity presented itself to try a French table wine, Beaujolais. I remember being astonished that the wine had such amazing fruit flavours of red berries and cherry. And so began my wine journey to find out more about this remarkable beverage.
Did you study wine at University?
Partly – I completed a B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in microbiology and my university training included Industrial Microbiology. This course focussed on wine, beer, and spirit making. It gave me a detailed understanding of the process of wine making.
Then how did you learn so much about wine?
Initially my education was by reading and tasting. I remember looking forward to Tony Aspler’s Toronto Star columns on wine in the in the 1980s and reading numerous wine books and magazines like the Wine Spectator and Toronto wine writer David Lawrason’s monthly newsletter. I also began attending tutored tastings with my idols, like Aspler and Lawrason. This, of course, led me to constantly try new wines from Ontario and all over the world. The wine world opened up for me!
But you eventually did take wine courses?
Yes, I needed to learn even more to be a professional. So, I started my journey with the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) in Toronto, who are authorised to offer the WSET (London) courses. Starting with the Level 1 Award, the Level 2, and Level 3 Award in Wine followed. IWEG’s terrific instructors helped me achieve the highest honours, Distinction, in all my courses.
How did your company, Wine Journeys, come about?
Wine and food are my passion. So, I decided to share those 40 years of knowledge of wine and food pairings with other wine lovers. In essence, my goal is to educate by sharing my wine stories. The stories help them learn about and remember the wine they’re tasting; then they can, in turn, buy better wine. The wine world is huge – most people just need a guide to take them on their own wine journey to better wine. That’s what I do at my wine dinners and events.
Thanks for talking with us.
- First published in the Briar Crier, September 2019