Unlike the day shift we were given a two week break before the Court of Master Sommelier exams. Two weeks to contemplate our weaknesses, memorize more wines for pairings, and work and re-work our flash cards. I blew the first week off completely. My wife insisted I stop shaving until the test. I went a few days without drinking any alcohol. I caught up on my day job. I got a little cocky.
I had no more illusions of a purple cape with which I could soar to the culinary stars. I was a newbie in a geographic region that probably had more wine guru’s per capita than any place outside of Bordaux. I didn’t want to work in a restaurant again (its a tough life, I learned this when I was young), I felt I had to drink more wine before I started marketing myself as the guy you want to hire to fill your wine cellar. I just wanted to finish the damn class and go back to the days when drinking wine was just drinking wine.
The weekend before the test my brother rented a beach house down the coast. Family gathered and as always there was a lot of cooking and the wine flowed. I was chided about my recent stint as a student and junior wine geek. My Mom and I always cook well together, though sometimes I’m sure she’s just humoring me. We had grilled salmon, muscles cooked in tomato juice, garlic and coconut milk, and some wonderful ricotta raviolis made by my niece Shea. Of course my wife made her famous caesar, and the nephews ate way too much garlic bread. We had a white from Alsace and later a nice Super-Tuscan. Family, food and love are what wine is about for me. Oh, and of course terroir, gotta give those French their due.
After returning from the beach the following days were stuffed with work, extra reading and note card review. My wife was so keyed in to my study habits she offered coaching when she thought I wasn’t studying hard enough. My dignity was so far gone I had no trouble guilt tripping her into leaving me alone with my beer and delusions of gunslinger perfection.
previous chapter: “108 Wine Program Management” ~ next chapter: “The Big Day”