Uncorking Wine Confidence
Club wine courses are giving Members the confidence to follow their noses (and taste buds).
Can you tell a Chardonnay from a Riesling? Are tobacco, wet leaves and gasoline legitimate flavors in a glass of wine?
Is Pinot Noir a type of grape? If you’ve always wanted to understand what you’re drinking or to be able to parse the drinks menu, a Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) wine appreciation course might just be for you.
As the Club’s wine program manager, Kanako Ijichi is no stranger to comments on how intimidating the world of wine can appear. A determination to help dispel that image inspired her to become a WSET-certified wine educator.
“I’ve heard people say they really want to join events with winemakers, but they’re hesitant to join if they feel they don’t have enough knowledge,” Ijichi says. “I want to provide that appreciation of wine.”
In March and June this year, Ijichi ran sessions of the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines and Spirits, a beginner-level course, at the Club. Conducted over two Saturday afternoons, the program explored the main types and styles of wine through sight, smell and taste while also introducing the language used to describe wine.
Although everyone who joined the Level 1 courses already enjoyed wine, they were united by a shared desire to understand more about what they were drinking. For Member Bryan Kipping, it was an opportunity to grasp the basics of wine.
“The challenge is that there’s so much choice out there and, quite frankly, I can’t drink every single bottle of wine,” says Kipping. “The ability to try many different wines without having to buy and open each individual bottle was great.”
Both sold-out courses boasted 100 percent pass rates. But their success went beyond mere numbers. Ijichi recalls how one student, who once avoided wines described as having high acidity because it evoked vinegary flavors, learned how acidity gives wine its crispness. It’s discoveries like that, Ijichi says, that empower people to explore wine further.
This month, Ijichi will uncork more than 40 bottles as part of the WSET Level 2 course, which builds on the knowledge gained in Level 1 (although a Level 1 certificate isn’t a prerequisite).
Originally from a family of vineyard owners, Member Krisztina Geosits is set to continue her wine education after taking Ijichi’s course earlier this year. She says it’s a chance to pursue an interest and “a nice tool to have in your back pocket if you’re going out with clients.”
“There’s a lot of science behind wine-making but also a lot of individual preference,” she says. “There’s a beautiful interplay between both.”
Behind the Label
October 8, 15, 22 & 29
Words: Florentyna Leow
Top image (l–r) Krisztina Geosits, Kanako Ijichi and Bryan Kipping: Kayo Yamawaki