I have shared my experience at CWE Boot Camp in the Official Blog of the Society of Wine Educators. Here is a copy of the text. Hope you enjoy it!
Officially called Preview Seminar, CWE Boot Camp is a special training designed for those people who want to take the Certified Wine Educator exam. One might wonder: “if I feel confident, why should I attend it?” I will answer this question from my personal experience.
I registered for Boot Camp this year, in the context of the Society of wine Educators Annual Conference. I wanted to know how prepared—or not prepared at all—I was to take the exam.
One of the many reasons this experience was important for me is because I wanted to get as much information as I could—particularly as related to the theory/written component. There is not too much time in a one-day workshop to go depth in terms of theory, and that is obviously something you have to study by yourself. However, Jane Nickles, SWE’s Director of Education and Certification and the leader of this seminar as well, gave the attendees not only some study tips but also exam strategies, including logical thinking tools.
And then there’s the essay. You know the material, you feel ready to be tested, but do you really know how to express your ideas coherently in an essay? During this seminar, you exercise how to schematize your ideas, breaking them in three main parts: introduction, key points and conclusion. Practice, practice, practice!
Tasting is the other component of the exam. Blind tasting is a challenge for most people. As you probably know, during the CWE Exam you have two identification portions: Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances. As wine professionals, we are tasting wines very often. But what are you tasting and what will show up during the exam? The CWE Preview Exam confers you the opportunity to know the dynamic around the Varietal and Appellation wine identification through an amazing tasting of four flights of six wines each, followed by a “mock exam”.
Going back to the point I am trying to make here: maybe you could feel you are ready, but suddenly you are in front of some wines you have never tasted before… Or you thought you could clearly distinguish between an Oregon Pinot Noir and a red Burgundy, but during Boot Camp you realize you are not that good.
Something similar can happens to you during the Faults/Imbalances wine identification. If you are not familiar with them (that is, if you have not practiced with the SWE Wine Fault Kit before), you will be surprised. The good news is that, during Boot Camp, the instructor explains how this portion of the exam works and additionally unveils some “tricks” for selecting the correct answer. However, you have to practice and sharpen your senses to do a good job.
Why should you take to CWE Preview Seminar? Two answers: if you—like me—want to get a personal and closer look to the different components of the exam in order to measure how ready or not you are, this is the most valuable chance you will have. On the other hand, if you are confident you are ready, you can pre-test yourself during this event, especially in the Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances components of the exam. If you do great, take the next step. If you don’t, breathe deeply and continue practicing. You will do better next time.
After my experience, I truly believe that being part of the CWE Preview Seminar gives you a great opportunity to be part of the reduced amount of people who pass the entire CWE Exam in their first-time. Don’t you want to be in that 12%? I do!
Keep studying, continue practicing, taste as much wines as you can, but overall, have fun during the whole experience. And, of course, register yourself for the next CWE Boot Camp.
Elizabeth Yabrudy I.