Each month, the Society of Wine Educators chooses an Educator of the month.  I had the privilege of interviewing the March Educator, Gilat Ben-Dor.  When interviewing, I like to get a feel for the person’s experience by asking the following questions:

1)  BEST WINE EXPERIENCE
2)  FAVORITE WINE REGION
3)  FAVORITE GO TO WINE(S) UNDER $25
4)  STUDIES/CERTS/ASSOCIATIONS
5)  HOW DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS
6)  FUTURE PLANS

Gilat’s answers were the following:

1)  BEST WINE EXPERIENCE
Like many a wine professional, I have a three (or four, or ten) way tie when it comes to my best wine experience. The Wine Women Awards I participated in at the opulent Hotel Bristol in Paris, with my fellow Top Ten World Finalist women from around the world, was an unforgettable experience. So was the two-week journey across Australia’s wine regions with a close-knit group of colleagues, fellow winners of the Wine Australia AusWISE national competition.
 
And even going back to my undergraduate days, I spent a semester living in Tuscany. Some of my best wine experiences came from the days they gathered us students for cultural field trips to the Tuscan countryside. We sat among friends over multi-course lunches, exploring the best of the region’s wines with each course. Getting up from the table one day, I looked back at the utter sea of wine glasses left behind, and I thought, “This is it. What a beautiful way to spend the moments of our life.”
 
2)  FAVORITE WINE REGION
Rather than have a favorite wine region, I have my “best of class” favorites. For example, my favorite white wine to complement subtle sauces is a Sancerre; my favorite “lamb” red is a Barossa Shiraz or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape; and so forth. I have very specific preferences, largely driven by the terroir or region rather than by individual brands.
 
3)  FAVORITE GO TO WINE UNDER $25
When I go for “value wines,” I really mean it! These wines are extremely affordable. There’s nothing like Paul Jaboulet Aîné’s Parallèle “45” from the Côtes du Rhône to go with a hot, rustic meal.
 
4)  STUDIES/CERTS/ASSOCIATIONS
I hold five wine credentials, from organizations including the Society of Wine Educators (CSW – Certified Specialist of Wine), the Court of Master Sommeliers, the International Sommelier Guild, Wine Australia (Australian Wine Bureau), and I am a Certified Bordeaux Educator through French agency Sopexa. As I mentioned under my favorite wine experiences, I was also fortunate to be a Top Ten World Finalist at the Wine Women Awards – Paris (2007), and a national winner of the Wine Australia AusWISE national wine educator competition.
 
5)  HOW DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS
I was working in “Corporate America,” but I knew my heart lied with an entrepreneurial life dedicated to my passions: these include wine, of course, but also speaking, writing, traveling, and business-so creating Renaissance Wine Academy LLC seemed like a natural outlet for me.
 
6)  FUTURE PLANS
Indeed, this is only the surface! I have recently come out with 3 new books about following passion and creativity, and have formed my own publishing company in the process. I look forward to merging this area with my passion for wine, and am currently working on my first wine book.

GUSTO POWER™ is her success coaching business for the “Multi-Passionate Professional.” The books and this business are not directly wine-related, but they are all about living with passion and creativity, which does tie into the pleasures of wine! She tends to draw a lot of culinary and wine people for her personal and professional development services.  Wow, what a busy and accomplished woman!