Absorbing the lingo and comfortably telling the difference between sweet and dry wines is a good place to start, but to really feel confident in making a recommendation and selecting food and wine pairings only professional training and lots of practice will do the trick.
This sentiment is summed up by stewardess Julia (27) who took part in the Beverage Specialist course run by the Luxury Hospitality Academy last November: 'I want to make a difference. Beyond stylishly pouring a requested wine I want to be able to make an informed wine suggestion that I think will positively add to the great dish the guests are having. I want to be able to offer the owner and guests more than just good service, and that means I have to learn new things and develop myself.'
'There are only great wines in stock on board a super yacht. So you could think, “I can’t go wrong there, so I'll be fine”. But I will feel more fulfilled in my job when I am able to suggest a great wine to my principal and his guests and am also able to substantiate why I recommend that particular wine. Make them see I understand what I am talking about, and make them trust I will provide them with the drink they desire…' Julia explains why she chose the course.
White, red, rosé: Wine in 3 days
Angelique Besseling, sommelier and trainer of the three day wine course, which is part of the Beverage Specialist course, will help the participants make that difference. The first day covers the theory, when Angelique takes them through the history of wine, the life-cycle of a wine and all factors that can affect wine, such as climate, altitude, but also the human impact through viticulture and vinification.
'We have learned how to taste wine according to the swet2 method and whilst we discussed all the wine-growing countries we also tasted the indigenous grapes. We were able to go through the differences between old world and new world wines, cool climate and warm climate wines. We tasted them separately and next to each other… to become more knowledgeable about the wines from all over the world,' Angelique explains.
Putting theory into practice
The next day she took her students to a Dutch vineyard where all the theory was put into practice. 'It was so good to see, smell and taste the theory we learned the day before. This way it’s easy to remember everything we’ve learned,' Julia adds.
During a blind smell test at the winery the students are challenged to describe what they smell. All the participants get the samples and they all need to write down what they think they smell. 'Oh it’s frustrating,' says Flame (21). 'I recognize the odour but I don’t know what it is!'
'This exercise is to teach them to describe the smell. Is it sharp, sweet or sour maybe? It triggers your brain to function in a different way. And you’ll need that if you want to work with wines…' Angelique explains.
Young Flame admits her palate still needs to develop to really know what wine she is tasting: 'I’m not that experienced yet, but everything I learn today I will bring with me the rest of my carrier. It will help me understand what I am going to taste over the next few years.'
More than judging a bottle by its label
Angelique: 'I think it’s important not to do only theory, but do a lot of practice too. We walked through proper river clay, saw half year old vineyards being dug in, discovered grape varieties, which where especially made for cooler climates such as Solaris and Johanniter. We walked through a wine cellar and tasted fermenting wine in the vineyard. We were able to let them taste what I had told them about a day earlier.'
'My goal is to let the students think of food pairings so they can bring this knowledge back with them and perform excellent wine and food pairings during dinners for their guests,' Angelique explains.
Not forgetting cocktails and coffee
Wine is an important part of the course but it’s not the only thing the students learn. Two days will be spent at Isaac Academy where they will be taught how to shake cocktails to the highest level (mixology), give standard cocktails a personal twist and how to create the best coffee using barista skills. Professionals like Misha Vostermans, Rob Rademaker and Leroy Soumokil will teach them how to make a difference in presenting a drink, cocktail, coffee or even tea.
Also want to learn how to make a difference in service? Please contact us for more information.
The next Beverage Specialist Course begins March 19th 2018!
Flame talks about becoming a Beverage Specialist: