Every wine lover has a favorite. It’s the one you grab each time you are opening a special bottle. Maybe it’s stored separately, in a box, even. There’s something about it you just love, but it’s hard to explain because to an outsider, it looks the same as all the others. It could be tied to a memory, a winery, or just a damn good dinner with friends. Take a moment to appreciate your instrument, the tool that makes it possible to open your favorite bottles of wine: the corkscrew.
I’ll tell you a bit about mine. My favorite corkscrew is one that says “Bordeaux,” although, I didn’t get it in Bordeaux. It’s tied to a memory. It was the key that I was given at the end of my sommelier certification course in October of 2013, my first big industry experience after starting this blog and getting into wine more in-depth the year before. I took the course on Miami Beach at the U.S. Sommelier Association after I had moved back to Miami from Washington, D.C. For four full days, we studied wine with fervor. Lectures, PowerPoints, chapters and chapters about grapes, and bottle after bottle we tasted. Intense isn’t even the right word for it–we need a more intense word to describe what it was like.
When I returned home every day, I studied. I studied all the notes and wines from the day, and read ahead for the next day. It was all wine all day and nothing else.
On the morning of the fifth day, we sat for the exam. It included two parts: multiple choice and a blind tasting of three wines. Again, I don’t think there is a proper word for it, because it was quite an intensive evaluation. A room full of wine professionals, head down, tasting and evaluating wines based on the previous four days of wine-o boot camp. We all came out of the room exhausted with minds like jello.
After a group of us had finished, we took our worn-out palates to Smith and Wollensky’s on the very south end of Miami Beach for a celebratory lunch. Though we weren’t sure if we had passed yet, we knew we deserved to at least enjoy a bottle in good company. We ate, we drank Silver Oak, and we reminisced about a crazy week of wine-ing and dine-ing all over Lincoln Road.
I did pass–and I don’t even care what my score was. The certificate was accomplishment enough for me. The corkscrew, a token of a week that arguably changed the course of my life and spun me into a direction I had never considered before. Armed with new knowledge and a wine key named “Bordeaux,” I took off into the world ready for my next adventure in wine. (Spoiler alert: there were many, many more adventures in wine.)