Where Have I Been?
Ok, ok, ok. . . I have been mysteriously absent for quite some time now (see most recent post below, dated 4/7/12), but I will contend that it was all in the name of wine. Sometime around new years of this year I decided to try my hand at adding some oomph to and somehow quantifying my wine credentials, which up to this point has basically comprised drinking a lot and reading wine books. In January I did my part and joined the Society of Wine Educators and to commit to taking their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) exam. As the website details, this is intended to be a self-study program that culminates in taking (and hopefully passing) their 100 question exam. The society was nice enough to produce a study guide from which all of the exam questions are taken, and they strongly recommend that you get this guide in order to study for the exam because they contend (and I can now agree) that the material covered takes a different angle on much of the material and focuses on certain things that may or may not be adequately covered in other materials.
Taken directly from their website, “The Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Exam is a rigorous exam, which tests a candidate’s wine knowledge and mastery of key elements within the worlds of viticulture and wine production.” My method of study involved approximately 6 months of review of the study guide (with varying degrees of discipline) along with flashcards and some cross-training with other wine related books and materials. My wife deserves special thanks for putting up with me during this time and I became more and more eccentric throughout the process, demanding that we spend hours in coffee houses and that she “leave me alone” for long expanses of time so I could try and focus on the material without distraction. I will not try and put a number on the hours spent studying directly for this exam (as I am a constant student of wine), but let just say it was significant given that this is a hobby for me and probably rivals the amount of time I have spent studying for any other test I’ve ever taken. I took the exam at the Cleveland based American Wine School, which is the closest testing location to my Dayton, OH.
It should be noted that the results of this exam must be reviewed by the society directly and cannot be scored by the American Wine School or anyone else. Because of this, they give a rather lengthy time frame for getting the results back. . . Not sure if I can hold my breath for 6 weeks, but I will try. In the meantime, for anyone who is currently studying or planning on taking this exam for their certification, know that it is a very difficult exam. Being the enthusiastic and curious person I am, I thought I knew something before beginning to study. . . and in short I probably could’ve used another month or two to study. The study guide is around 250 pages long, and approximately 50% of the words in the book are in bold. You know, this is to indicate a term of particular importance, heh. This is the functional equivalent of highlighting every line in a book, it sort of loses its punch. The following are example of subject that my now mangled brain can remember from this particular version of the exam:
-% of wine required from the label vintage in a certified S. African wine.
-Which 3 AVAs lie in both Oregon and Washington?
-Chiavennasca is a synonym for what grape?
-U.S. Control states take what part in wine distribution?
-Styles and production characteristics of Madeira/Sherry/Port
-What wine region lies between the Vosge and the Rhine?
-Vin Doux Naturel is most like what other wine?
-What is the production breakdown of Maconnais (red/white/etc.)?
-What are the stylistic differences between Sancerre and Fume’ Blanc?
As you can see, pretty much anything is fair game. 100 questions in 1-hour tends to become a bit of a chore with an onslaught of questions like these. Belated wishes of luck will be accepted. I will update when I learn anything new. Until then, I hope to have the reviewing on this blog revved back up a bit. Cheers!