Sunday, November 25, 2018

TOP 20 UNDER $20 OF 2018!!

My popular annual list of values is BAAAAACK! It's always exciting to find a wine you love that is an excellent value, and these all are amazing finds. This year, oddly, no U.S. wines made the list -- I've written about a ton of sub-$20 American stunners in the past, but just didn't stumble upon a new fave over the last 12 months. (#2019goals!) Some surprises in there -- a white Rioja and a red Rioja Reserva... a Côte Rôtie... a Bordeaux... a white Port -- it's almost unheard of to find such quality from those regions at this low price point. But there is something here for everyone, every mood, every meal, every whim. Enjoy!


2015 CVNE Monopole White Rioja (Spain)
Light and zippy but also unctuous. Pretty darn tasty! Notes of white flowers, green plum, sugar snap peas (!!) pear, lemon, and straw, with a steely minerality. Easy going down but has a great presence. ~$12

Image result for Josef Ehmoser von den Terrassen Grüner Veltliner2016 Josef Ehmoser von den Terrassen Grüner Veltliner (Austria)
Lemon-lime citrus, herbs and white pepper, on the savory side. A stellar summer quaffer — refreshing, goes down easy, but has personality. This baby joined me at the beach on more than one occasion. ~$13

2016 Tania & Vincent Carême Terré Brulee Chenin Blanc (South Africa)
Heady nose of honeysuckle, with some yellow apple and white peach, but this baby is queen of shortbread cookie/toffee/straw/cloves/almond secondary and developed notes. Mouthcoating. Luxe. ~$19
Image result for Vila Nova Vinho Verde 
2017 Vila Nova Vinho Verde (Portugal)
White flower perfume, tangy spice, (even a little pepper,) peach and yellow apples, super tasty quaffer. Haven’t historically been knocked out by many Vinho Verdes, but this one stands out from the crowd. ~$12

2017 Yalumba Y Series “Unwooded” Chardonnay (Australia)
Florals, green fruits, citrus, stone fruits abound. Tropical and herbal too. With toasty, dough-y notes from lees contact. Lots going on but doesn’t punch you in the head. ~$12

NV Churchill’s Dry White Port (Portugal)
I am so glad this squeezed in (on a technicality, as it’s a 500ml sized bottle!) Medium gold color, with smoke, caramel, mandarin peel, nutty, and herbal notes. Intense, dense, rich, super-long finish. Just some initial caramel-ly sweetness at the start. Although it says "Port," this is really an aperitif or something creative to pair with a meal, NOT a “dessert wine!” ~$20 (h/litre: 500ml)

Image result for 2017 La Tour Boisée Minervois Blanc2017 La Tour Boisée Minervois Blanc (France)
This field blend of 6 southern French grapes is a little funky and savory, but florals and green fruits balance it out. Unctuous and rich (at 14%!) but still quaffable. ~$12

2017 Massimo Daldia Vernaccia di San Gimigniano DOCG (Italy)
Mouth-filling compact fruit, with elderflowers, lemon curd, ripe pear and quince, some nice grassiness, and unctuousness from lees contact. Creamy! ~$19


2017 Cabernet de Saumur Réserve des Vignerons Rosé (France)
So tasty, and what a bargain! Rose petals, lime, red grapefruit, red and black fruits galore, some white pepper, rosemary, and flint. Over-delivers at ~$8

2017 Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine Tavel Rosé (France)
Fruity, spicy, loooooong finish. Tavel is a Southern Rhône region that ONLY makes rosés, and this is why. Cherry, strawberry, rasbperry, with roses, and tomato leaf, and herbs, and juicy nectarine, and watermelon, and white pepper, and, and, and. ~$19


Image result for 2017 Ch. de la Bonnelière Rive Gauche Chinon
2017 Ch. de la Bonnelière Rive Gauche Chinon (France)
This is a heavy-duty (yet crowd-pleasing) red, with cherry, cranberry, blackberry fruit, and loads of earthiness—tobacco, cedar, leather, tea leaf— plus smoke, caramel toffee and buttery smoothness. ~$15

2016 Esporão Quinta dos Murças Minas (Portugal)
All the purple, all the time. Florals and fruit. Plus savory notes, caramel. Kind of a liqueur feel to the fruit, so warm and rich. LOVE. ~$17 (N.B. The Reserva of this wine is going to run you $30-40, but I was OBSESSED with the 2015 Reserva, so if you feel like a little splurge, definitely go there.)
Image result for 2016 Naroa Pinot Noir Gran Reserva

2016 Naroa Pinot Noir Gran Reserva (Chile)
Ticks all the boxes: floral, fruity, earthy, and spicy. Its refreshing high acid screams for food pairing, but this plush pinot is also great on its own. ~$17

2009 Ch. Haut Plaisance Montagne St-Emilion (France)
Great cassis, black cherry, blackberry fruit, with mocha, graphite, licorice, pepper. Tannins aren’t overbearing. An elegant experience, but this can improve too. ~$12

2016 Agniuli Primitivo (Italy)
Tasty and rich, with spiced rose potpourri, cherry, blackberry, plum, lifted by a clean eucalyptus note, and grounded with a bit o’ barnyard. Mouthcoating! ~$19

2016 Domaine Faillen Ste Marie Corbières (France)
Deep, dark, rustic, and intense, this Languedoc bruiser will pair beautifully with winter stews and roasted meats. Florals, blackberry, bramble, spice box, lavender/rosemary garrigue, and some funky merde and leather. Big-boy tannins hit hard, but smooth out over the finish. 14.5% alc, and only ~$13

Image result for opera lambrusco2017 Ca Montanari Opera 02 Lambrusco (Italy)
This is a dry style Lambrusco, which is a bubbly red from Italy. You get fresh dark berry fruits and a pleasant herbal earthiness, buoyed by the zesty pink bubbles. Easy drinking and a crowd-pleaser, even among all levels of wineaux. ~$17

2015 F. Merlin Côte Rôtie (France)
A Côte Rôtie for under twenty bucks?!? Crazy. Hugely intense, florals, black fruit salad, lavender, and a choco-vanilla thing going on. Elegant, rich, luxe, succulent, dense. Outstanding. ~$17

2012 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva (Spain)
This hearty red delivers! Lots of fresh black cherry, cassis, lilac florals, with herbs and spice, sage and licorice, and a foundation of mocha. Delish. ~$ 17

2016 Pierre-Marie Chermette Beaujolais (France)
Light, fruity, fun... but def not wimpy or too “girly,” this Beauj is holiday heaven. Great for gatherings all through the holiday season. The natural acidity pairs beautifully with food, and it’s comfy like a warm blanket. ~$16

2017 Terlan Pinot Grigio (Italy)
This baby narrowly misses the criteria, but I just HAD to include it, because it is truly a fantastic Pinot Grigio. It is rich, high in alcohol, unctuous, great flavors of chamomile, pear, melon, tarragon, lemon zest. This is NOT the neutral, blah, inoffensive PG your Auntie likes… but give it to her anyway! ~$22

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There you have it, Wineaux. Once again I ponder raising the bar to 25 wines under $25, because there is so much goodness in the $20-25 range. Perhaps next year!

May we all drink well in 2019...


Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Image result for turkey and wine
Hi Wineaux -- I know this is last-minute, but a lot of you have been asking, so I'm putting down my study books and closing my script and ANSWERING YOUR CALL.

Thanksgiving can be a crazy time; figuring out what to drink shouldn't be. There are a few basic things to keep in mind:

1) Lots of Turkey Day food is, well, bland. Potatoes, stuffing, turkey... YAWN. Your wine should provide the PIZZAZ! However, now is not the time to pop open that super-concentrated, oak-aged, dense, intense Cab. It'll overwhelm.

2) You might love and appreciate wine, and Aunt Frieda is definitely a Wineau, but the rest of the fam? Maybe not. Look for excellent values, so when Uncle Fred puts ice cubes and a packet of Splenda in his red, you won't pass out.

3) Acid is always your friend, when it comes to food-and-wine pairing. You might not first think of red wines with turkey, but a high-acid red... PERFECTION.

Let's get to it! (PS all of this goes for the rest of your holiday dinners as well!!)

Yes, this might violate guideline #2, but substitute a good-value sparkling wine made in the Champagne method and you're good to go.
Image result for taittingerWHY? Bubbles! Festive! And its acidity and rich toasty nutty flavors will pair perfectly.
Value -- Lucien Albrecht Crèmant d'Alsace ~$17, Gruet Blanc de Noirs (NM) ~$14 Louis Boillot Crèmant de Bourgogne Rosé ~$20.
Mid-price -- Taittinger Brut La Francaise Champagne ~$38, Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne ~$38.
Splurge -- Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne ~$160,  Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne ~$75.
Image result for ca montanari lambrusco

DARK HORSE: Lambrusco
Skip the sweeter inexpensive versions and head straight for this herby, dark-fruited Italian bubbly.
WHY: Also bubbles! Rich earthiness and plum/blackberry fruits are lifted by its freshness.
Ca Montanari Opera 02 Lambrusco ~$17, Zanassi La Grasparossa Lambrusco ~$13.

If you're tempted to throw a Beaujolais Nouveau in your cart, I won't stop you. But the mass-market ones are so ephemeral, you'll miss the gloriousness of what a Beaujolais with some oomph and character can give. If you do want in on the fun, ask for a smaller, recommended producer. Non-Nouveau is a different story! And named crus (named regions, like Morgon below,) will cost a bit more, but will definitely deliver, so a splurge here is worth it!
WHY: Gamay (the grape) is bright, fruity, and fresh. Flirty personality, and smooth sailing. And most are under $20-25.
Value -- Ch. du Basty Lantignié Beaujolais ~$12, Pierre-Marie Chermette Beaujolais ~$14
Splurge -- Marcel Lapierre Morgon Beaujolais ~$40

A lighter-style Shiraz/Syrah shpicy crowdpleaser like Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah (WA) ~$13 (I'm bringing this to our company's TGiving!)
2016 J. Lohr Chardonnay Riverstone 750MLHeavy-duty but real fruity oak-influenced Chardonnay like J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay (CA) ~$11 (This has been my dad's "house wine" for decades!)
A white with savory elements like a dry Furmint (Hungary) like Evolúció Tokaji Furmint ~$12 (I am obsessed with dry Tokaji!)
Or a Grüner Veltliner (Austria) with its white pepper/celery character, yet often with yummy stone fruit like the Weszeli Langelois ~$17
I'm also a sucker for a delish Sangiovese: Villa Sant'Anna Chianti Colli Senesi ~$19 or Antinori Santa Christina Chianti Superiore ~$13. Other Sangiovese wines are Rosso di Montalcino ($20-30 range,) and Brunello di Montalcino if you want to get a bit more splurgy, ask for good (and good-value) producers from your purveyors.
Other high-acid reds to look for: Pinot Noir from all around the globe, Zweigelt, Blaufrankish.

As always, many of these may not be available in your local wine shop; bring this list with you and ask for comparable suggestions! Your wine merchant should be your new best friend, always. This is just the tip of the iceberg; there are so many suggestions, you really can't go wrong... let me know what you paired with YOUR bird!!


Thursday, October 25, 2018


There really is something for everyone when it comes to wines from Portugal. Want a light, refreshing aperitif, something breezy for a summer's day? Head to Vinho Verde. More of a weighty Chardonnay fan? Try Encruzado on for size. Prefer a plush red? You won't run out of options from single varietals or blends of Portugal's numerous indigenous varieties, alongside some known entities like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lean towards the savory side? Sip on a Ramisco. Dessert wine fan? There are a range of Ports to suit your style.

Don't worry about memorizing all of the strange grape varieties; many producers aren't even sure what's in there, as field blends are quite common. (Back in the day, when people didn't care so much about each specific grape, they just grew haphazardly in the field.)

I often say that I rarely meet a Portuguese wine I don't like, and a recent tasting sponsored by Wines of Portugal proved that in spades. Plus, these wines are generally very affordable, although we're seeing more super-high-end (and subsequently high-priced) offerings out there these days. Some of these particular wines are not yet available in the U.S., but keep an eye out for the style or grapes!

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2017 Vila Nova Alvarinho, White IGP Vinho Verde
Peach, white flowers, little savory elements. Tasty and refreshing.

2017 Kelman Encruzado, White DOC/DOP Dão e Lafões
Toasty, smoky, yellow apple, lemon, green fruit, weighty from one-month lees contact, but great acid to balance.

2011 Monte Cascas Colares DOC Ramisco, Red DOC/DOP Lisboa
Pale garnet color, silky and satiny, with pronounced acidity and low tannins and alcohol. Red cherry, potpourri, spice, wet leaves, dried herbs, saline, savory. Elegant and yet has power. Unusual.

(I visited Colares on a trip to Lisbon a few years ago, read about it here!)

2015 CH by Quinta de Chocapalha, Red IGP Lisboa
Black plum and blackberry, with violet florals, chocolate, sage, lavender. Big and rich but not heavy-handed. Organically grown, fermented in historical stone lagares, 24 months aging in French barriques. ~$37

2011 Quinta de Lemos Jaen, Red DOC/DOP Dão
Fruity: blueberry, black cherry, blackberry, with some barnyard, campfire smoke, black pepper, toast, light vanilla. Long finish with a plush mouthfeel. Very juicy(!) but elegant. Granite soils. ~$35

2014 Júlio B. Bastos Garrafeira, Red DOC/DOP Alentejo
Red cherry, cassis, lavender, eucalyptus, dusty mocha. 100% Alicante Bouschet. Foot-trodden in marble lagares. Lots going on, with a compact feel.

2014 Cartuxa, Red DOC/DOP Alentejo
Ripe, juicy cherry, raspberry, grapefruit pith, sage, smoke -- little Syrah-ish! Big (14.5% abv) but not "hot." 45% Aragoñez, 40% Alicante Bouschet, 15% Trincadeira, 12 month in French oak. ~$19

2016 100 Hectares Sousão, Red DOC/DOP Douro
Plush tannins and mouth-filling texture. Cherry liqueur, violets, roses, blackberries, blueberries, coffee, mocha. Petite Sirah/Zinfandel-ish. Mmm.

2012 Esporão Quinta dos Murças Reserva, Red DOC/DOP Douro
Purple all the way. Savory, caramel, liqueur fruit, dense and dark, warm and rich. Super smooth. LOOOOVE. ~$33

NV Churchill's Dry White Port, DOP Porto
Medium-gold color. Smoke, caramel, herbal, mandarin peel -- intense and dense -- rich, super-long finish. LOVE. ~$23/500ml

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Definitely keep your eyes peeled for Portuguese wines. I know you'll discover a new fave!


Thursday, October 11, 2018

How I Got My WSET Diploma Online (Fingers Crossed!) -- Part 1: UNIT 2

When I decided to go for my WSET Diploma, I searched the interwebs for other peoples' experiences, and didn't really find a lot. So I decided to write my own spiel! Anyone curious about higher wine education may find this helpful, and other wineaux may just like to know what earning those letters after one's name actually entails.

I am not-so-secretly a nerd. I did well in high school and college, but when I started seriously studying wine to compliment the work I'd been doing with wine appraisals and to round out my knowledge, I REALLY got into it. I sought certifications from three different "schools," first earning the Certified Specialist of Wine from the leading wine educational body in the U.S., the Society of Wine Educators. (No classwork involved, 100-question multiple choice test.) Then I jumped into the Wine and Spirit Education Trust's Level 3 Advanced certification (leading international wine education group, week-long intensive class or multi-week spread out class, multiple choice and short answer exam plus a blind tasting component.) Finally I became a Certified Sommelier via the Court of Master Sommeliers (few days of "review" classes, multiple choice theory exam, blind tasting exam, and service exam.)

The WSET Diploma I call a "double master's degree on steroids." The only higher wine educational credential beyond it is Master of Wine (or Master Sommelier in the service industry.) There are currently six units: Viticulture and Vinification, The Business of Wine, Light Wines of the World, Sparkling Wines, Fortified Wines, and Spirits. (These will be changing next year; they are dropping spirits and shifting the amount of time dedicated to certain units.) You can pursue classroom instruction at WSET course providers around the globe, or do an online program. As I'm also a performer and I never know when or for how long I'll be out of town, I opted for online. It has its benefits and its disadvantages for sure. 

Up first, Unit 2: Viticulture and Vinification. (Exam for this unit is 100 multiple choice questions.) The following are excerpts from my journal.


Week -1: Induction week.

The online course builds in an induction week so you can get used to the website.

I wished they’d have provided us a list of classmates’ names and locales, but instead, one of our “figure out how to do this thing online” tasks was to post in a forum and “introduce” ourselves. I took notes of folks, but I feel like we’re all letters floating in alphabet soup; some bob at the surface, some are half-hidden, and some are obscured at the bottom. I don’t know which I am yet. Probably on the surface but struggling to stay afloat? We also played around with sending information into the WSET Mother Ship (it just occurs to me I never got a reply. Was I supposed to? Hm.) and interacted with this thing called a “wiki,” which I immediately LOATHED.

The wiki is a tool for lots of people to create and edit a document together. The one our whole group started for the induction week was a hodge-podge of personal outline styles, fonts, expression of information… ugh. HATED IT. Seriously hope I won’t fail because of it. I have not had such an aversion to something in years (unless you want me to get a little political.)

I also am not a huge fan of the forums, which is how our alphabet soup is supposed to communicate with each other. If you post something, and someone replies to your post, and someone replies to THEIR post, it’s easy to miss it, plus I don’t know if one CAN organize the posts chronologically… factor this by 15 and, well, another hodge-podge mess.

Week 1: Unit Two begins.

Three activities: Trellis, Rootstock, and a group “Establishing a Vineyard.” I actually think the group project is cool, but since we “wasted” 5 days trying to work and/or communicate in the forums, frustrating. Not to mention, I’m in rehearsal for a play right now!! So I am totally focused elsewhere for 8+ hours of each day, and exhausted when I CAN carve out study time.

End of W1 and I did complete Trellis, am 80% done with Rootstock (plan on finishing tomorrow, so not TOO late,) and our smaller group – surprisingly(?) kind of helmed by ME – is at a decent place, I think. I have seven pages of text left to highlight and 10 pages left to note.

[My study system plan so far is to highlight the Study Guide text, go back and note it on looseleaf, then put certain things on flashcards when I get home. Eventually I’ll also highlight and notate the other recommended reading and add that in the binder notes.]

The density of information is overwhelming me a little right now. I actually said out loud yesterday, “what did I get myself into?” I do try to calm myself down knowing that probably everyone in this program is working a full-time job, so we’re ALL in the same boat. But I’m already thinking 2 ½ weeks ahead, when I can be home and able to spend 3-4 hours a day on this. HOLY SHIT. 3-4 hours a day for maybe the next 3 years? HOLY. SHIT.

I seem to have developed a tic in my eye.

In all fairness, I have also finished an appraisal, been working on my Anthem Quest (Jan/early Feb is when most baseball teams schedule anthems,) and for it, written a blog piece for a friend’s sports website, also since I just found out my SWE seminar proposal was accepted, I’ve been reaching out to winemakers asking for juice to make sure I have what I want in August, plus going back-and-forth with Dad about a possible wine inventory in NH during my days off next week.

In almost 2 weeks, I’ve watched only 5 hours of TV. My alarm goes off at 7am so I can get a few hours of study in before rehearsal (I’m way too fried afterwards.) I worry that I will have problems sustaining this pace; though I know I won’t be in rehearsal for the majority of the year, I am motivated to carve out study time so I don’t fall behind. Veee shall see…

Side note: why does the WSET “week” start on a FRIDAY? That makes zero sense to me, and is confusing.

Week 2 – Unit 2, Vine Management

Two Activities: Winter pruning, “Other Management Activities,” plus finishing the group activity from the prior week.

Monday (today) is my day off, so I’m able to get a bunch of studying done. I read the Study Guide pages relating to winter pruning, plus reviewed Skelton’s thoughts, and did my activity. Yay! Hoping to highlight and notate most of the remaining pages today. Then I have three+ days to do the Week 1 Practice Test (I’m scared haha), the second Week 2 activity, and finish up the W1-2 group activity.

I’m actually worried about the group activity, because only one other person has really contributed so far. It’s “my” team, (it was my idea, and I started us off,) so I feel I have to do more, like put a LOT more info on the wiki pages today, to at least guide the group’s efforts. But mama also needs to hit the grocery, gym, and I’m getting a massage today, so… balance!

I was able to really get ahead of the curve this week. But there still seems to always be something left to do. Highlighted pages to notate. A blog post on how you feel you’re doing so far. The weekly test. I still worry that there is more to do for the group activity, but I’ve already done a ton, and kind of don’t feel like doing any more, especially when only one other person from my group seems to have contributed more than a few sentences.

I'm glad I didn't waste time trying to learn all of my online classmates' names and locations; only about half of the people contribute AT ALL. Participation is not required--you don't get a boost for doing well, or penalized for not doing anything--but I wish there was SOME kind of bonus for those of us who make the effort!

Week 5 – Unit 2 (W3: Grapes, W4: Pests and Diseases, W5: Winemaking Processes)

Moving right along. Assimilating my studies into my life upon return home post-play has been interesting. I don’t have a regular schedule, so sometimes I study in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes at night, sometimes all three. (Reminds me of my least-favorite Practice Test questions’ list of answers: 1) a and b only, 2) b and d only, 3) a, b, and c 4) all of the above.) Somehow the reading for this week is the same as last week, which is great, because I didn’t finish it! I did spend a lot of time last week on the flowcharts for white, rosé, and red winemaking decisions, and actually got good praise from our instructor Tommasella!! Woo-hoo!! This week, I busted out my first activity – on restricting the oxidative enzymes laccase and tyrosinase, sexxxxy – but am dragging my heels on the warm vs. cool climate considerations relating to a variety of vinification topics. I’ll finish my highlighting/notetaking first.

Later: I finally got around to contributing to the warm vs. cool activity under ONE topic, haha. With a caveat; I said that I tried to take Tommasella’s critiques for others under consideration, but then it felt like mine was too general. So I wonder what she’ll say! Some of these activities are definitely more helpful than others, I will say. Update: I got a “Good post, Annie” WINNING!

I’ve been to a lot of auditions, got a few callbacks, but no bookings yet. If I can manage to get something for the early summer, that would take some pressure off; I know money will come in and I’ll get to be on a show schedule for a month or two. 

Week 7 – Unit 2 (W6: Winery Considerations, W7: Post-fermentation Operations.)

The end of Unit 2 is in sight! I kind of can’t wait. While I’m still auditioning (and very well, I might add, though still no bookings,) I do want to section off a week or so to go down to FL and spend time with Mom and Dad. WHY NOT REVIEW ON A BEACH?!

I feel like my notetaking this week is never-ending. Yes, I’m also trying to fill out flash cards at the same time, which slows me down a scootch. But it’s already Wednesday and I still have over half of it to go.

But I contributed a few entries to this week’s Activity and got high praise from Ms. Tommasella! Two “Good insights, Annie”s and a  “Very good answer, Annie.” I think some of my colleagues/fellow students just blurt back the talking points from the study guide. I try to build off of a foundation of them, and that seems to be encouraged.

Revision! (W8: Packaging)

I made it. No more Study Guide notes to take or Activities to do. Phew. My exam isn’t for three weeks, so I have a LOT of time to review and study. My plan is to finish making my notecards this week (and if I manage to, I’ll read pertinent sections of Oxford Companion and take additional notes.) While I’m in FL I’ll review two units per day at first, then devote a whole day to each unit. Then I still have three days before I go to Philly for the exam set aside for the stuff that keeps tripping me up.

I’m more concerned with details vs. base of knowledge – on the practice tests, there is often more than one answer that seems like it’s right – so I’ll just keep drilling the specifics. Once I “get” something pretty darn close, I’ll remove the notecard from the stack. At this point, I’m fairly certain I’ll do okay, so I’m not totally freaking out! But I’ll say it again – it is A LOT.

Review, continued.

I went down to FL and it was great to see Mom and Dad, but I GOT SHINGLES! (When the urgent care doctor asked, “Have you been stressed lately,” I was, like, “More than usual?” haha.) I’m on the medication, and it’s improving, but the meds have me logey and headachy and my stomach isn’t a fan, so that’s not helpful. I was able to finish my notecards – very behind that schedule – and I’ve actually been enjoying reading supplementary chapters from Jamie Goode’s “The Science of Wine” book. Not sure how much it’ll help me on the exam in particular, but a nice way to review information.

I went through notecards for most of the sections, but some are easier to “memorize” than others. Took the Philly Wine School practice test and got an 85 (Pass with Distinction)! Two questions I guessed on I got right, one other “layup” I got wrong cus I was stupid and jumped at it, saying Ruby Cabernet was a cross between CS and Grenache, when I KNEW it was Carignan. D’oh. But that practice test seemed way easier than the ones in the Study Guide. On the study guide I got a 73 so passed with Merit. I really want to nail all of these practice tests, but I suppose just passing should be the goal. 

I think I will have to really go over rootstocks/trellis/soil stuff; a question always seems to pop up like, “If you have a low-vigor site with sandy soil, what is the best trellis,” and I’m like… um….?


Well, readers -- I took the exam, and earned a Pass with Distinction, hurrah!! I knew there was no way I'd get EVERY question right, so just focused on the ones I knew straightaway, then used logic to whittle down options for the others. I guess all of that study and review were worth it. 

One Unit down, five to go. Up next, Unit 1: The Business of Wine. To be continued...