The Pursuit of Balance Part IV — Colds, Weight Loss and Wine Education

I’m aware that this very personal section of my blog reads as an ABC of ‘First World Problems’ but you know what? I actually really enjoy writing it! Now, back to being an entitled Millenial…

Well, it’s certainly been a busy couple of weeks! The last time I was writing this piece, everything had cleared up a little, there was a clear direction and objective and I was starting to see traction on some of my efforts. This is still true, happily, the only disadvantage being that as the metaphorical mist clears up you start to see the obstacles in the cold light of day and boy, do they look a lot larger in person.

A lot of my efforts are still going into the technical side of the business, namely Search Engine Optimisation which involves constant tinkering with my website, key word search checks and occasional envious glances at the websites that are either paying for Google ads or are simply on the first page by way of being enormous. Still, I’m hauled myself up to page 4 and it’s not impossible that I could make page 1 by early 2016. A lot of people ask me why it’s so important to get on page 1 for Google; the reason is I really want to do tastings with people who are looking for just that, rather than trying to look attractive and cost effective on a huge website offering lots of different options for tourists in Barcelona. I understand the way that business works in this city but I genuinely believe there is a place for high quality tastings/attractions that don’t seek to be advertised across every hotel or tourist board in the district. I am happy with a slow building process as my reputation means more to me than anything else.

That feeling when a random article in a travel blog from 2012 that mentions ‘Barcelona Wine Tasting’ is still ahead of your very specific business in the Google Rankings. The algorithm guys at Google are rapidly running out of time to be on my Christmas Card list.

Wine has taken a blow over the last two weeks thanks to a horrific cold I managed to get landed with. I can still taste the structural components of wine and weirdly, tannins seem to be etched on my tongue in incredible detail, but to smell the wine has been almost impossible. This has killed my blind tasting practice for two weeks and created some additional work. Now when I’ve done tastings, I am double decanting bottles hours ahead of time, purely so the shop owner next door can check the quality of the wine for me before service! On the plus side, I was able to give a personal tasting to some close friends that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Over the last 2 years I’ve picked up a variety of excellent wines, cavas and champagnes that I wanted to share with people who were important to me, the issue being getting them all in the same place at the same time. We managed to settle on the unlikely date of Monday 23rd November and get everyone into our tasting room for an evening together. I bought the majority of this wine when I had a well paid job and there is something strangely pleasureable about sharing the creme-de-la-creme of your collection and seeing other people drinking outstanding wines they would never normally get a chance to try. A really special night for me.

The big win for me these last two weeks has been my health, somewhat contradictorily considering my cold, which has been in big part to the excellent diet plan given to me by Diana Villalobos. In the first two weeks I have dropped around 3kg, improved my press-up sets back to 40–50 at a time and actually started jogging again. It’s early days of course but I am eating incredibly well and having no problem maintaining the diet; it turns out that almost 3,000 calories of clean food is a huge quantity to eat, so the fat-boy inside me is happy even though he hasn’t realised he’s being pleasantly tricked. This next week I will step my exercise regime up, tighten up on the ‘cheat meals’ and push on — I feel great and have no intention of taking a step backwards.

I should probably give some credit to this guy as well. Soy sauce; the salty saviour of brocolli, brown rice and chicken/tuna.

The final consideration that I am still mulling over is my WSET education. Despite numerous follow-ups by both email and phone, they seem to have no intention of responding to the request I made for financial aid back in August. Despite this quite frankly rude approach to student interaction, I would actually be happier if they came out and said no rather than just blanking me, I will be able to pay in installments if I open a UK bank account, which is what I will probably do. I’m aiming to start my WSET Diploma in March/April which will involve at least 3 trips to London next year for intensive classes, exams and coursework submission/revision, as well as a hefty study plan and increased emphasis on both blind tasting and analytical thinking.

Excellent education, terrible bursary system. Call me old-fashioned but I believe if someone gets in touch, you should take the time to answer their query, even if it’s only to say ‘no.’ Exceptions from this code of conduct made for queries from disinherited Princes in Nigeria.

This latter part is important as the WSET focuses far more on the industry and economy of wine than the service aspect. An example of a question you may receive in an exam might read like: “Explain why retail prices for New Zealand wines are so high. Despite this how has the NZ wine industry expanded its markets?” which encompasses a great deal of general wine knowledge as well as some basic business considerations such as route-to-market, export taxes and regulations in New Zealand, volume of production and scale of economy, importation of materials such as barrels for ageing etc. For me this is absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to get stuck into the course, which lasts over 2 years with a potential pass occurring in 2018 at the earliest. I intend to put together a study group in 2016 for anyone also studying a high level of wine education including blind tasting sessions and hopefully some tutored help by high-level experts in the Spanish wine industry. Exciting times!

Wine Cuentista: The literal translation is ‘Wine story-teller’. We run high quality wine tastings in central Barcelona, Borne area, with the intention of tasting and learning about high quality Spanish and Catalan wines in a relaxed atmosphere — perfect for a fun evening out in Barcelona! If you would like to get in touch or see our services, check out the website here:winecuentista.com Thanks!