Although people working in the beverage industry can become certified sommeliers — wine experts — to better do their jobs, education options for the average wine drinker who wants to know more aren’t so easy to find.
Austin sommelier Daniel Kelada noticed that. He became involved with the International Wine & Spirits Guild, a separate entity from the Court of Master Sommeliers, to teach classes that would give serious wine enthusiasts the knowledge to continue pursuing their passion.
“It’s very approachable from the consumer perspective,” Kelada said. “They’re not represented enough, but they’re becoming very sophisticated with food and wine. What if you’re a consumer who wants to get the same level of education and the same access to wines and tastings as a sommelier? You have nowhere to go. The guild is the answer.”
To move through the levels of guild certification, Austin wine drinkers can start by taking the Level 1 Wine Seminar, a 12-hour course held at the new wine bar Mas Vino on West Fifth Street. The Level 1 class is an overview of French, Italian and U.S. wines and their accompanying histories, as well as food and wine pairings and other general concepts, Kelada said. At the class, you’ll also learn how to technically evaluate wine and pick apart flavor profiles, trying an array of different wines.
“You’ll never drink them the same way again,” he said.
Plus, you’ll probably find yourself with a whole new network of wine-loving acquaintances in Austin, something that Kelada couldn’t emphasize enough. It’s partly thanks to the guild and its close-knit members that Gilbert Alejo was able to open Mas Vino, a dream for the oncologist — but he’s far from the only member who’s benefited from these classes, Kelada said.
“The guild creates community, advances wine culture and makes you a better consumer at the end of the day… It’s the only school that really takes the wine certification education to the next level,” he said.
The next 12-hour course offered by the guild is on Sept. 26 and 27. You’ve got to be fairly invested in continuing your wine education, however, because the course isn’t cheap: Level 1 is $495. For more information or to register, visit internationalwineguild.com.