It’s week eleven of my ISG Fundamentals of Wine class – the home stretch. And I’m experiencing the entire gamut of feelings that may imply: palate and brain fatigue, satisfaction that I dared to pursue a dream, excitement about the future and if I’m honest, a bit of anxiety about next week’s final exam. It’s been a crazy whirlwind, but a whirlwind that’s been wonderful in a way that I haven’t experienced for a very long time. I’m reminded that I’m a learner at my core and that I’m happiest when I’m fully immersed in something that I find personally engaging.
This week was the first time that the work required was a burden rather than a pleasure. I think part of it was that I’m battling a sinus infection and somehow, cold drugs and studying just don’t mix to produce a very appealing cocktail. But I think the other part of the answer is that I wasn’t personally interested in this week’s new content. We learned about beer and spirits, and while I love an occasional margarita as much as the next girl, I’m just not passionate about beer or spirits in the way that I am about wine. I didn’t even want to smell the whisky, much less taste it, especially with a cough drop chaser….. It’s part of the repertoire – I understand that and am willing to pay my dues. I just didn’t actively enjoy it.
The good news is that my level of anxiety about the exam has decreased dramatically. Karla, our teacher, is great and she both explained the grading rubric in detail and led us through a timed blind tasting practice test. For me, the practice test was illuminating. It showed me, in a very concrete way, just how much I’ve learned the last three months. Did I correctly identify the grape, country and region of origin of every wine? Absolutely not. But I nailed one perfectly, missed the grapes on two, and the country and region on the last. My nose and palate descriptions were where they needed to be and I “passed” with room to spare. It’s a “Fundamentals” class, the tip of an ENORMOUS iceberg, and I’m learning that development of the correct evaluative process, at this point, is more important that a perfect palate. So I’ll do some work reviewing wine profiles and other than that, I feel pretty good to go.
I’ve outlined all the lectures and written material and will spend this last week, hanky in hand, memorizing for the four remaining essays and the multiple choice test. It’s an absolutely overwhelming amount of material, hence the anxiety. But now I realize that I’m only fighting my personal achievement demons because the class has prepared me well to pass. I’m at the head of the stretch…..and it’s time to finish strong. I’m not in it to win, place or show. But, I want to be well prepared for the “race” ahead.