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Sometimes it takes awhile to process good news. I’ve had three months now, which is long enough. I passed! There was an almost overwhelming WSET Diploma exam in June for Unit 3, which had me waiting 10 weeks for results. When I got the phone call with the great results, I was overjoyed because this test counted for half the credits in the Diploma program.


While awaiting the verdict, I worked diligently toward another long-standing goal: becoming a Certified Sommelier. In the 1990s I watched a captivating TV documentary, which followed the life of three sommeliers. At the time, my work life revolved around international finance with a global corporation (Think: spreadsheets, presentations and financial systems.). Yet what I saw in the life of wine fascinated me. I thought, maybe someday…


As I studied for the Certified Exam, help came in the form of humans. A gentleman in a nearby city helped me learn the intricacies of service. He is an Advanced Sommelier who has completed a portion of his Master Sommelier designation. A very patient yet serious guy, he didn’t make it easy for me, running me through the ringer while grilling me on theory questions. My first attempt at the exam left me short. I missed the red wine we tasted blind and was entirely off base. I passed Theory and Service, and I even did well on the white wine according to my feedback. But that red wine eluded me. Heartbroken at the news, I retreated into myself for about a week afterward.


Soon however, I realized I needed to get back to studying for my WSET exam. I put the Certified Sommelier (CS) exam behind me and focused fully on the task at hand. After taking the exam in June, I then turned my attention back to the CS exam. I met with my friend and mentor once more where he ran me through blind tasting, tough theory questions and a lengthy mock-service scenario. He took extended time to talk through six wines together.


Around the same time, a Certified Sommelier at a nearby restaurant sat down and walked through two wines with me in blind tastings using the Certified grid for the Court of Master Sommeliers, which is different from the WSET tasting grid I am accustomed to. He also allowed me to sit in with his restaurant staff on a couple of Saturdays as they did a few blind tastings. All of this happened in the few weeks preceding my CS exam in August.


All along I had encouragement from family, friends and wine acquaintances – I could feel the love. August 9 came and went and I passed the CS exam! I am now a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Perhaps most surprising was the announcement that I had the high score, and I only share that to juxtapose it with my No Pass results 136 days prior. Whoever said, You’ve got to get back on the horse that bucked you is right. I almost didn’t for fear of failure.


Two weeks later, I got my WSET Diploma Unit 3 results! And I’ve finally processed it all in my mind. What a wild ride the year has been. And August 2014 ranks as one of my greatest months ever.


Eleanor Roosevelt was right when she said: You must do that thing that you think you cannot. Cheers to you, Eleanor!