It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I even began to like wine. We were on a trip to Italy with the family when my brother-in-law insisted I try a little wine with the food. He said if I tasted it with food, it would change everything. He was right.
From that moment on, I was hooked. It is really easy to see why; one of my greatest joys is cooking for groups of friends. Having about ten people around the table is my favorite. There is something so special about great food and friends. I love the multiple conversations and the laughter. I love everything about the vibe it creates. I love that incredible connection between food and wine, friends and family.
Fast forward to my late fifties. It was a couple of years ago that I suffered three major losses in my life all within a very short period of time. I lost my mother-in-law who was more like a mother to me than my own mother. I lost my job. Then, to make matters worse, I lost my beloved dog to cancer.
I felt so helpless. It seemed like I was surrounded by a darkness that was like nothing I had never experienced before. I could not see a path through all of it. What exactly do you do at times like this? Work had always helped me cope with difficult situations in the past, but I didn’t even have that now. I felt like I had to find something to immerse myself in.
I came across an online ad for the International Culinary Center Intensive Sommelier Training. It was only ten weeks long and started in two weeks. Without much thought, I enrolled. These were some of the most challenging courses I have ever taken. That is saying a lot. Technology was my former career. I had taken several IT certification courses. I had also been taking courses at Harvard, including statistics. Those were hard. This was harder.
After graduation, we all had the option to take the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Introductory and Certified Sommelier exams. I thought “Why the heck not?” Although I was not planning on it in the beginning, there I was sitting for the most rigorous set of exams I could imagine. Theory, tasting, and service; all of it a new world for me.
I am happy to say I passed, just barely, but I did pass. So, what am I going to do now that I am a Certified Sommelier? I am really not sure. I do know it will be a great adventure.