Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate German Wines

I spent much of yesterday attempting to memorize German Wine Label terminology.  I don’t know when the last time you attempted to work the word “gutsabfullung” into a conversation, but let me assure you it was my first.  The problem with this WSET wine certification is that I am completely out on an island.  It is like memorizing Greek without knowing anyone that speaks Greek or ever having the chance of going Greece itself.  I have put myself in a situation where I don’t have any peers.  Any human being that I come in contact with in Ohio immediately glazes over if I get into any detail on any of this shit.  The only one that will ever know that I can name the 13 Anbougebiete is myself and whatever poor sap the WSET has enslaved into grading a mountain of poorly written student exams.   I am becoming an expert in ice climbing but live in the desert.  I am trying to shove 10 pounds of almost totally useless shit into the two pound bag that is my mind.

Here’s a quick tip.  If you ever want to make someone in a beverage store roll over like a submissive puppy as they wet themselves in fear, say the following:  “I am really disappointed that you don’t carry any of the wines from the Hessische Bergstrasse.  I find that to be the most underrated Angougebiete, don’t you?”.  Although what you have really said is “I’m sad you don’t have any obscure German wine from a place no one outside Germany has ever heard of.  It is an underrated region.”  It comes off as “I know more than you could ever dream of knowing about a subject no one really cares about, German Riesling.  Can you even imagine how much more I know about everything than you do?  Can you?  Now, out of my way you fool!  You are blocking the cooler!  I am buying some light beer and cannot afford any delays!”

I was urged to download something called “The Examiners Report” by my instructor in San Francisco.  Its purpose appears to be to crush the spirits and will of prospective students seeking to pass these exams.  It’s a basic rundown on why almost everyone that tries to take this test fails.  Some of it is written in a wonderfully British tone of condemnation and humorless superiority which I have somehow grown to really love.  “Many answers were superficial, unimaginative and unrealistic showing limited original thought…”  That sounds like something you would get in response to a bad test paper as a 14 year old.  I would like to hear that in a crisp English accent and then ask that person “Oh yeah?  You want to wrestle?” while in my lucha libre mask.  That would probably soften up the rhetoric.  This comment was actually made in regards to a question of diversity and challenges of selling the wines of the Loire outside France.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what that means.  It’s a hard topic to get that worked up about as almost no one in America even knows what “The Loire” is much less that wine is made there.  I think I could have provided a very realistic answer.  “No one knows what the fuck those wines are and would rather buy a chardonnay or cabernet with a name they can pronounce.  They want a bottle that looks cool, not with a bunch of French words they don’t know how to say.  You know when the last time someone in Ohio said, “Man I hope someone brings some sweet ass chenin blanc to the party because I’m really fucking thirsty.”?  Never, that’s when.  You think someone that eats at Burger King is going to take a chance and buy some tootsie fruitsy French wine at the bottom of a store shelf?  No fucking way.  They’d rather buy a 12 pack of Corona because they know what that is and they aren’t going to show up at a party with something called a “Vouvray” and risk looking like an asshole.”  (I’m thinking I would lose “marks” on this answer despite it being 100% true.)

In the back of this report are tables showing the pass/fail percentages of persons taking the various exams.  The particular unit I am doing now, of which there are six I must pass to earn my Golden Wine Scepter, had a pass rate of 35%.  This sort of gets my attention as I scan around the room when I am in San Francisco in the classroom setting.  I am the only person in that room not involved in the wine business.  While these people spend their days involved in wine while trying to prepare to pass this test, I am singing “Mojo Twist” and selling TV commercials.  This is probably a disadvantage.  A woman I met last week in a restaurant that works for a wine importer was completely flabbergasted that I was even attempting to pass this set of exams, much less for no apparent purpose.  It’s like I’m trying to learn to be an anesthesiologist just to see if I can while everyone else is white knuckling it to get a good job at a hospital.  I’m putting myself through the ringer for pleasure.  It’s looking bleak.  According to the data in the back of those tables, a random student has a 5% chance of passing all the exams on their first attempt.  Somehow I have passed four of six.  Please note on that 5%, it is under the assumption that each student in the data set is equal.  They aren’t.  Right now some Japanese guy that was sitting next to me is completely memorizing the 878 pages of “The Wines of Burgundy” by Clive Coates, MW.  He will be able to recite it when I see him next.  Meanwhile the guy that was sitting by the opposite corner that kept making really gross noises is probably waiting for his edibles to kick in and playing video games.  I fall somewhere in the middle I suppose.

I am deep in this thing now.  The next time you see me I might well be reading “Rheingold:  The German Wine Renaissance”.  I might even be enjoying it.  Don’t make fun of me.  I need to remember what the hell the difference is between a Qualitatswein bestimmer Anbaugebiete auslese and a Qualitatswein mit Pradikat trockenbeerenauslese.  For no real reason.  Or some English guy probably named Roger is going to write terrible things about me.  And I will never be able to confront him in my wrestling mask.  Well… I could I suppose… Pretty easily in fact… If this exam goes south and someone gets snarky, why blame myself?  It would be much more satisfying to leap naked in a wrestling mask out of a London alleyway to settle differences in opinion on The Loire.     


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