Monday, May 29, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Continued WSET Diploma Slog

I am on the home stretch in prepping for my doomed attempt to pass the “still wines” WSET Diploma exam.  I am surrounded by oblique wines, computer print outs, arcane wine books, and class materials.  I am in deep.  I have ruined wine for anyone that spends more than 11 minutes in my company.  I am shoveling the information in as fast as I can but only some of it seems to stick.  I find myself to be in “Full Leo Mode” more often than I care to admit where I respond to a written exam question with his characteristic “Right…  Right… What the fuck were we just talking about?”.  My brain now stretches to get the details of the answer which are just out of reach.  It might be early onset Alzheimer's, which would actually offer some comfort in being able to blame my inability to remember anything on a progressing medical condition instead of just general stupidity.  

I have been going through past “Examiners Reports” put out by the WSET organization.  These are recaps of previous test results from the essay portion of the exam.  They are actually cruelly entertaining.  There is not an author credited to these reports, but it must be the same person as the snotty condescending tone rings through each one of the documents.  Somewhere in England there is a domestic partner being told repeatedly by the author “they’re doing it wrong” in such matters as garbage removal, driving directions and sexual intercourse.  Example of a test question recap:    “This was an extremely popular question that was answered badly by the majority of candidates attempting it.”  Then the best provided example of the answer had this caveat:  “(The following script) was one of the few higher scoring scripts for this question, but is by no means outstanding.” 

Here’s another one.  “The breakdown of marks for this question showed that it was answered both by those who really knew the subject (with a top mark of 88%) and those who clearly did not have a clue (a bottom mark of 10%), with the latter far more prevalent than the former, with 24% of candidates gaining the lowest grade –fail (unclassified).”  The best one though is "In spite of the large number of truly atrocious scripts, there were also some good ones..."  The WSET is not very big on positive affirmation or encouragement.  It’s much more of a Marine Corp Drill Sergeant with a Monty Python accent.  I wonder what “Your days of finger fucking Miss Mary Jane Rotten Crotch are OVER!” sounds like if Michael Caine said it to a platoon of Marine recruits. 

I like to think of the home life of that author along these lines.  “Janet.  I have provided a synopsis of your alleged lovemaking last night.  It was an unclassified failure.  There was very little attention paid to foreplay with almost no oral stimulation, and what oral stimulation occurred involved some teeth.  The rush to the actual penetration was ill-advised.  Your failure to utilize different positions, varying rhythms, eye contact, or stimulation from your hands in any manner was a great disappointment.  I have left a full candidate assessment on the kitchen table.  I suggest you absorb it and return to the bedroom more prepared next time.  If there is a next time.  Good day!”

This is what I signed up for, so it’s my own fault I am in this mess.  There are two parts of this exam.  Tasting and theory, which is essentially essay questions graded by the Monty Python Drill Sergeant.  That will probably go poorly.  There is good news.  I have been tasting very well lately.  It’s odd the way tasting works.  I find it to be like hitting a baseball.  Sometimes you’re just hot and seeing the ball very well.  I am smacking the shit out of the thing in the last ten days, nailing obscure wines like mencia from Bierzo, petite sirah from Lodi, Malbec from Cahor, a Gavi, a Toro, and a Valpolicella Ripasso.  Now I’m just wondering how long I can keep “seeing the ball” like I am.  Cody Ross had an unbelievable Playoff run for the Giants on their first World Series run.  That didn’t last.  I think he’s probably running a baseball camp in Phoenix now drinking 16 oz Miller Lites and watching 12 year olds take cuts from pitching machines.  It’s a long fall from the top.  I just need to be Playoff Cody Ross on June 14th.

I have almost no prayer in passing the essay portion on this test attempt.  I can’t make German wine law stick.  I can’t reliably remember the name of Hungarian Rivers or Austrian mountain names.  I just need to get really lucky in what they ask on this exam.  I’ll bet that snotty Monty Python Drill Sergeant is already scanning this blog entry making sure to have extensive questions on Hungarian sweet wine production.  (Or is this my plan and I am actually drawing you into my little trap as I am completely versed in the topic?  Ask yourself that my nemesis…  How’s your mind now?  Blown?)  My hope is I can keep it together and get past tasting.  In theory I can take another run at the exam in January.  There have only been an average of about 183 people on the planet annually that have passed this Diploma Unit since 1969.  The pass rate is unbelievably bleak.  I will not let it break me.  I will get past this thing.  Somehow.  I have done many things by sheer force of will, and this will be another one.  While I have absolutely no practical application for this certification at this point, it is my primary driver at this point.  There is no great payoff at the end except the achievement itself.  And maybe avoiding a public dressing down in the dreaded “Examiner’s Report”.        


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