The Things I'm Learning Studying For The CSW Exam

I can't pronounce German words

Anbaugbiete? Trockenbeerenauslese? Spatburgunder?

Knock it off, Germany. Your language is frightening to me.

Luckily for me, the Certified Specialist of Wine exam, put on by the Society of Wine Educators, doesn’t have an oral component, so my complete inability to pronounce anything German1 won’t factor in one way or the other.

I first took a stab at the CSW Exam back in the summer of 2011, full of piss and vinegar, and with my superego firing on all cylinders. I was deep in the midst of writing this blog with shocking regularity, and figured I could use some crib notes, half ass my study, and pass with flying colors.


I didn’t miss by much, scoring a 73 out of 100.2 I’m trying again, and I’m not even 100% sure why. I don’t know if being able to put “CSW” behind my name is going to open any doors or lift any skirts, but one thing is certain: I’m interested in wine, again.

It’s been a while.

I’ve had a few good wines recently. A Ridge,3 something called The Federalist that tickled my undercarriage, some good Dry Creek reds. The usual, for the most part, but awesome because I’m getting back to that being “the usual”.

I find myself regaling friends with the differences between Port and Madeira, how rotted grapes can make the best wine you’ll ever taste, and why they call it “ice wine,” whether they asked or not. Maybe they want me drawn and quartered, but people seem to listen and don’t immediately book it for the nearest hill. I take this as a positive.

I think I’m coming back. Possibly not until I take the Exam,4 and I need to figure out what to do with the different rating systems5 in existence here, and how I want to move forward. I feel like the whole “Badges” thing never caught on, even if there were certifiable geniuses with great hair and sunny dispositions behind the project.

So there will be housecleaning. But just as grapes are being harvested and crushed as we speak, and in the upcoming weeks, I’m feeling a new vintage coming together.

I promise nothing. Keep your expectations low, and I just might fulfill them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go study the Austrian system of label laws.

Yes, really.

  1. Pradikatswein? Fuck off

  2. Passing grade is a 75. Ouch

  3. Always a favorite

  4. October 11

  5. At least three

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