The date was set for my introductory sommelier course and exam. I scheduled it for May 2nd-3rd, 2015 at the Four Seasons resort in Vail, CO. To be clear, the course portion consists of two full days of lecturing from four Master Sommeliers and at the end of the second day you take the exam. Now that I had officially registered for the course/exam I could focus on studying, and that I did.
For a while, I would go twice a week to a local wine shop for their tastings and try to meet someone who would be willing to help me understand wine (sometimes it felt weird but I figured it was worth the try). It worked as I ended up getting to know the woman who poured the wines at the tastings each week. She happened to be studying for her certified sommelier exam so I thought it would be perfect. We met up a handful of times but we weren’t really on the same page so we parted ways eventually. Now what I thought…
Then I remembered an email I received after registering for the course, I was entitled to a one year subscription to the website, http://www.guildsomm.com. One of the pages on the website is ‘Connect’, allowing you to meet up with other people in your area. So, I created my profile and started looking around when I found a woman in my area who was interested in starting a study group, her name is Dana. I was so excited! We got together about three times before I had to take the exam. I couldn’t believe it was really happening!
I remember driving into Vail with my husband and our dog and commenting on how beautiful and relaxing it was there. We found the hotel and settled in quickly so I could study before the lecture the following day. Before I knew it, it was time to get ready and head to the resort.
The Court had recommend that you show up early to get signed in and get your seat so I showed up about twenty minutes prior to the lecture starting. I only had to wait in line maybe two minutes so the remaining eighteen minutes were spent awkwardly hanging out in the lobby. I remember wanting to go and introduce myself to people and make some connections but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so, I became very self conscious all of a sudden. Luckily I found a really nice bathroom with enclosed toilets so I picked one and just hung out until it was time to head in the classroom and begin the lecture.
I sat in the back corner, closest to the door (for quick exit if need be). I was looking at the introductory course book of 250 pages and wondering how in the hell we were going to get through all of this information in two days, then the lecture started and it was all made very clear…we were going to cover this information very quickly. It was not a discussion like I thought it might be but rather a very fast review of each topic. I started feeling as though I had not studied nearly enough. The more I let that fear come over me, the less focused I became during the lecture. I had to shut off my brain and turn on my ears before this whole thing became a waste of time (and money, let’s be honest we aren’t rich here).
It was the end of the first day, I walked back to the hotel in a haze of information. I didn’t know what to start studying next. Do I review the information that we just went over or do I focus on what we will discuss the next day? I figured studying anything wine related at this point was a safe bet. A couple of hours went by and Jake could tell I wasn’t feeling very confident. He told me to put the books away and just talk to him about how I was feeling and my concerns. He let me know that even if I don’t pass, it was a fantastic weekend in Vail and that it was still a great learning experience. That was all well and good but in my head I wasn’t convinced of either of those things. I told so many people what I was studying for and they were all so excited for me, I couldn’t bring myself to go back home and tell them I failed. I had to find a way to turn that fear into motivation. At the end of our talk, I just decided to put the books down, have a drink and call it a night.
Day two was not any easier to walk into because not only was it another day full of lecturing but at the end of the lectures I knew I had to take the exam. I told myself I have to see this through regardless of what the outcome may be.
I made it through the lecture and exam (not with flying colors, but hey…). After I turned in my exam, I had to wait in the lobby until everyone was finished and the exams were graded. I paced nervously around the property and made some phone calls to help pass the time. I called Jake first and then my family back home in Iowa. After what felt like an hour (realistically it was about twenty-five minutes) they called us in to give us the results. They informed us that they only call the names of those who passed and that they call them at random. The whole time I am waiting for my name to be called, I kept telling myself that it would be ok if I didn’t pass, I could always study more and try again; then my name was called and I was beyond ecstatic! I quickly grabbed my certificate and pin, drank my glass of Champagne and picked up the phone to tell my loved ones I PASSED!!!
Now that I had successfully completed level one, it was time to begin studying for level two…Again, I found myself asking, where do I begin?