international sommelier guild

The Wine Bloggers Conference starts July 21st, just 5 days a way in Charlottesville, VA.  I’m so excited I would actually think about swirl, sip, and NOT spit!  Heaven forbid.  The night of July 21st is the International Wine Tasting Night – to sip and spit, or to sip and swallow – what a dilemma!  Some of the sponsors that have graciously offered wine for the event include Wines of Chile, Wines of South Africa, Aveniu Brands, Vibrant Rioja, and Planet Bordeaux.

I may know your opinion of wine bloggers – stuffy, full of verbose tasting notes- well, that’s not me – I’ve studied at the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), but I have a long way to go educationally speaking – I like it, or I don’t – it’s that simple.

Speaking of a down to earth, full of education (Master of Wine), author, speaker, James Beard Award Winner (well, I could go on and on), is Jancis Robinson.  Like I said, you may think of wine bloggers as trifle, but Jancis is a keynote speaker – quite the coup!  Wikipedia mentions that “She currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and also writes for her website

I bought the 3rd edition of the book she compiled and edited, the Oxford Companion to Wine from Amazon, thinking it would be great to get her to autograph it.  OMG!  This hardback book is over 800 pages and weighs over six pounds – oh, you know, some light reading on the plane.  NOT an electronic copy obviously.  But the pictures and information are just astounding and simply wouldn’t do it justice in an electronic format.

Follow the conference events as we blog on Twitter – look for the hashtag #wbc11.  See you there personally or virtually!


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:


Gilat’s answers were the following:

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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!

My passion of wine affords me to speak with the coolest people in the wine industry.  My latest interview was with David Glancy.  David has wine credentials galore; so many in fact that he is only 1 of 12 wine specialists in the world with a CWE (Certified Wine Educator) from the Society of Wine Educators, and a MS (Master Sommelier) from the Court of Master Sommeliers.  He also is a French Wine Scholar, which was of much interest to me, because I love all things French.  This certification is from the French Wine Academy made up of French winegrowers’ associations and backed by the French government located in Washington, D.C.  Often the academy takes its instructors on wine trips where lodging, meals, and tours are paid for (airfare additional).

 Many may disagree, but to me, I think the blind wine tastings are the hardest part of the wine certifications – David has tasted 1000’s of wines for training and education.  I am working on my first 100! 

A day in the life of David could include:  directing the Certified Sommelier Program at the Professional Culinary Institute (PCI), teaching at the San Francisco Wine School (SF Bay Area provider of the French Wine Society programs), developing award winning beverage programs, implementing effective beverage cost controls and providing in-depth restaurant staff training – done through his firm – SFsommelier Consulting , running wine tastings and corporate events, being the contributing editor of the Sommelier Journal , performing charity work, and of course, being a sommelier!

If you would like to see this guy in action, please visit PCI’s channel on YouTube.

David GlancyKudos to David on all his triumphs.  I’m just happy that I passed my blind tasting portion of the final exam for the Wine Fundamentals II course of the International Sommelier Guild (ISG)!

The challenge for week 4 of Ceci the Sipper (Veronique) is to post a picture of a wine experience that means very much to us.  I have travelled all through France on many occasion, Italy and Spain as well.  I have been to Chile and Argentina.  But I’m afraid to admit that all that travel was before I had a full appreciation of wine.  Needless to say, I made no trips to any wineries!  Talk about lost opportunites.  But no tears here, because my wine self-journey has just begun.

Having started my ISG Wine Fundamentals Class is a HUGE part of my journey.  Since it started this past week, I felt it appropriate to take a picture of my classmates.


Classmates of ISG Wine Fundamentals Class

I am proud to announce that I am now an official student of the International Sommelier Guild.  You can go through a 3 track series of classes to become a certified sommelier, but I am taking the series to craft my wine education.  I’m not sure what to expect, but get this…the class is every Sunday (sorry Dallas Cowboys) from 12-7pm!  The class starts this Sunday, Oct 3rd, 2010 and runs through Jan of 2011.  Quite a long haul, and that’s only track 1.

Being a huge NFL fan, it looks like I will have to turn into a college football fan (because college football is on Saturdays), which is quite alright.  I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, so I will be cheering on the Texas Longhorns (Hook ‘Em!) and saying hi to “BEVO”, our proud mascot.

Quoted from the ISG web site:

“The course offers a basic understanding of the major grapes used for making wine and their discerning characteristics as well as an introduction to fortified and sparkling wines. You will taste wines from around the world and be introduced to fortified and sparkling wine as well. Upon completion of this course you will have learned some basic wine terminology, understand label information, introduction to appellation concepts, rudimentary service techniques as well as some of the food and wine pairing theories. The goal is for you to gain an appreciation for all types of wines and feel comfortable and confident when selecting and buying wine.”

For more details, visit the ISG (International Sommelier Guild) website.