CWA Certificate course – Lecture 1

It’s Tuesday. Just had one of those crushingly long days; already thinking the weekend can’t come sooner. I get home quarter to 5. My room’s a mess, there’s still dinner to be made, and of course there’s work due for tomorrow.


Two guesses as to what I do next……


Absolutely right! Make a cup of coffee and waste away on the couch. This time around it is not because of my periodic bouts of uncontrollable laziness,  I am rather excited to be starting my second wine course (the Certificate course with Cape Wine Academy) and all I can do is count down the minutes. It is even raining outside; everything telling me to stay indoors… I get there in good time. For the next two or so months, 6 p.m Tuesdays shall be this same routine! I’m ecstatic!


I walk into the lecture theatre (at a “Golf and Conference Club”) and as expected I am the youngest; a fact that is reiterated each lecture with my over-eagerness  to answer questions despite being terribly wrong rather too often! The class is split evenly by sex, with majority having at least one foot in the wine industry. Yet again I am a minority with there being at most four Coloureds, Indians and Blacks altogether. Susan, our co-ordinator, is nothing short of fantastic. She some how knows us all by our first names and goes out of her way to ensure our comfort. What a star!


As is, I already drink copious amounts of wine. So much so that to my peers I have become some sort of connoisseur. The extended wine monologues I’ve been known to fall into from time to time don’t help much either. I’d like to think it hasn’t gone to my head, especially since I have been  fortunate enough to interact with ample wine makers and true enthusiasts to be shown just how little I actually know about vino: but it has. The ego can be a tenacious creature!


It feels refreshing to be put in my place in this first lecture.


It is an in depth tutored tasting. The lecturer, whose name I have obviously forgotten with my terrible name retention, is captivating and knowledgeable. She starts off with the usual what to expect from the entire course, before diving in unbidden into the different cultivars! She touches on wine-making just enough to keep us intrigued all the while not giving much off as there is an entire lecture set out for that. We are provided with a 11o paged course book that we are  meant to internalise, with a sample exam attached (which on attempt later on that night I get a whooping 5%!)



Soon after we have a Hill & Dale Sauvignon Blanc (SB) in our glasses. We are tasting blind (not knowing what is in our glasses until the end). She walks as through breaking down the wine with regard to it’s appearance, nose and palate. “It’s pale straw with a green tinge showing it’s youth. It exhibits one dimensional citrus fruit flavours that follows through on the palate. It has a high acidity and a short finish.” I give it a rating of 13 out of 20. She reminds us over and over again that we must always rate each wine and conclude. The conclusion for this wine reads: “Dry, unwooded , light-bodied white wine. It is a Sauvignon Blanc because of the citrus fruit profile and acidity. 2010 – 2011 vintage. It’s drinking well now and could keep for only one or two more years. No obvious faults present.” By the end of the night we have gone through Ken Forrester Petit Chenin, Nederburg Riesling, La Motte Shiraz, Stellenzicht Merlot and  Broken Stone Cabernet Sauvingon. I am one of the few that is consistently spitting; I have work to do remember?


The lecture in total is 2.5 hours short. I stuff my face with crackers as I reluctantly get up to leave. I can’t help but sum up the evening as I walk out of the room. It has surpassed my expectations. I have been flooded with relevant information I would otherwise never attain on my own, as well as gotten an opportunity to mingle with like minded people.  I have tasted a large array of wines while having charming conversations with my desk mate, who is unfortunately married. I have learnt the subtle differences between cultivars and how to judge a wine based on it’s potential to age.


I strongly recommend every budding wine enthusiast to enrol in a wine course or two once they have already gathered a base knowledge of vino that can only come from drinking loads of it and establishing what you like. The exposure they offer is riveting and consistent.  The courses act as a mere guide to further explore the full depth of what wine has to offer under the pupillage of seasoned experts. Your tastes and knowledge is guaranteed to develop drastically. It is also a great way to meet  people (some of who hopefully shall not be married 😀 )



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