The Pursuit of Balance Part V — Christmas and a good end to 2015!

Christmas in England always creates such lovely images. Unfortunately, these tend to be washed away in short order by lashings of Manchester rain.

I’m currently in England with my family for the Christmas holidays; a great time to relax, reflect and get some much needed sleep. For the past two weeks of December I’ve been working in a wine shop from 9:30 in the morning to around 5–6pm in the evening, then conducting private tastings and trying to cram in the back end of my business and social life in the evenings! It was a great learning experience and a good run up to Christmas financially but I’m absolutely shattered; I wrote a blog article HERE about it, with a particular reference to working in the retail store which was quite eye-opening. Since arriving in England I’ve visited Majestic Wine, who were both helpful and fairly priced, to pick up a large selection of international wines that I would struggle to find in Barcelona, so whilst the next few days will be relaxed there’s always an opportunity to taste some new wines.

Speaking of wine, I’ve finally managed to finalise the booking for my WSET Diploma course, starting in March 2016. This is a huge step for me as this time last year I barely knew who the WSET were, and spending a week there in April 2015 to study and do my level 3 course with them was a pivotal moment for my experience with wine; it really brought the reality of working in the industry to life for me. The Diploma course is split into 6 units over 2 years covering more or less the entire industry of wine, going into great detail throughout each section, or at least from what I’ve seen of the study material so far; what is the best root-stock to use for both resistance to nematodes and lime-heavy soils, anyone? Studying the Diploma is a big commitment but one that I’m very ready for, although the overall cost (close to 4,000 euros a year including the cheapest flights and accomodation in London) is substantial. I’m looking forward to documenting this experience in the future but for now, there is 1–2 hours of study a day to cover the basics before nailing down the details and digging into specific topics.

I haven’t been this excited about a holiday since I learnt to Scuba Dive in the Philippines! I’m planning on visiting around 8–12 vineyards, unfortunately I won’t have the time to head to the North. Another time!

In terms of the business 2016 looks to be very exciting, with lots of new opportunities to meet new people and offer tastings on different platforms. I won’t really get going until February due to my vacations to Argentina in January but already I have some great tastings lined up and some new interesting projects. One of these is the Barcelona Blind Tasters group, which I have been dabbling with for some time. Blind tasting is the act of analysing and tasting a wine without knowing what it is, with the objective of breaking it down and understanding it to the extent you can describe the grapes used, the country and region of production and the rough price level of this wine in your local market. For me this is the pinnacle of wine expertise and being able to pair your theoretical knowledge with practical experience is probably the most practical skill you can apply in a consumer facing role in the wine industry. There are lots of wine professionals in Barcelona without any formal qualifications, and I hope this could both improve my own skills whilst adding value to my peers currently working in bars, restaurants and education facilities around the city.

Even better news in the health department as the results of the first 6 weeks of dieting are quite conclusive; I look, feel and generally perform much better when I’m not morbidly obese. I’m quite looking forward to see how I perform when I’m merely fat. In statistics I’m down from 122.8kg to 117kg, including a 4% drop in body-fat and quite a boost in general energy. More thanks must go to Diana Villalobos who is the engineer behind the diet, which has allowed me to lose weight without losing energy over 14 hour working days; no mean feat! The end goal of 108kg is still in sight although with Christmas now a wall in front of me, the objective is simply not to un-do all the good work thus far.

This little bastard is going to get it one of these days…

I’ve momentarily given up on the day-to-day fight against the SEO monster. Ultimately, my time now needs to be primarily spent on studying and, well, studying. I won’t stop trying to improve but it is no longer my main priority; it may even be the very first part of my business I outsource to someone who doesn’t have to read several Google-searched articles before making very minor changes to the website. We’ll see how it goes, anyway. If this whole experience has given me anything, it’s that I actually quite enjoy using social media to interact with wine and more specifically, the wine industry. Prior to this business I had never even considered a Facebook, let alone 3 different social medias, a blog and a website. Now I’m meeting people from across the world and actually getting a chance to meet them face to face over a glass of wine, which makes all the effort absolutely worth it. I probably won’t update this series until January sometime, so on the off-chance you’ve made it this far, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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!