Humility, arm cramps and other benefits of the wine business

Tim's Wine Market

Day five of the MW seminar

Today is where the rubber hits the road. The four days of preparation, yes preparation, have been building to this, two hours and fifteen minutes of tasting and two hours of theory in what the MW Institute calls a mock exam. The verdict will be,pass, fail or don’t come back for a couple of years. Dont be confused, this is not the real exam, this is just the MW evaluation of whether I can sit for the exam, in almost eighteen months.

The first part of the test is a blind tasting, if you have been following you know the deal. Twelve wines, two hours and fifteen minutes. Guess all the wines down to origin, not give enough reason why and you will still fail. I felt good about the first seven wines, all dry, then things turned ugly. The sweet wines are a serious downfall for me, when is the last time I tasted a Sauternes and Ausbruch side by side? To be fair, I don’t know that I have ever tasted an Ausbruch. In fact, I am not sure I am spelling it right. By the way, for those of you keeping score the wine is made from Furmint in Austria. Yeah, I agree, who cares?

The theory part of the test was more interesting. They give me three questions about the wine business, one about grape growing and wine making, one about the distribution and sales, the third about the whole business with a global perspective. As a unique twist they let us use pre-arranged laptop computers, until this seminar the essay had to be hand written. Can you believe that that, in 2006? If ink became rare it would not bother me, I type everything. Was it hard. As the squirrels say, helz yes! Two hours, two questions, answered with well organized, thought provoking answers. I probably went down in flames but it felt good knowing what the conditions of the exam feel like.

After that, dinner at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville with a few fellow masochists. I ate kidney for the first time, except for hot dogs, and a little rabbit for an appetizer. My friends all brought some older Burgundy and Bordeaux, it was quite an evening. Tomorrow is the last day, a bit of a blow off, so me and the chaps retire to my room for more drinking, some cool cheeses and really geeky, wine banter. As I am writing this I am pouring the last glass of Havens 2001 Hudson Valley Syrah. Not old world enough for me but it does go down easy. Tomorrow, the final lap then visits to several Napa suppliers.