SWEbinars Get Spirited!

whiskeyBy popular demand!

Here’s one for the cocktail crowd! Starting in April we will be offering Spirits SWEbinars designed for CSS (Certified Specialist of Spirits) Exam prep.  These sessions, covering  the material in the CSS Study guide and beyond, will be of interest to any spirits professional, mixologist,  wine lover, wine professional, or spirits enthusiast!

Our first “Spirited SWEbinar” will be offered on April 11, 2014 at 12 noon (central time). The topic will be Whisky (Chapter 4 in the CSS Study Guide).

We are pleased and honored to have Barry Wiss, CSS, CWE as our presenter for this session.  Barry is the Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates and serves as the Second Vice President on SWE’s Board of Directors.

We’ll also be continuing with our CSW review sessions, and offering other Spirited SWEbinars in the future – click here for more information on our SWEbinars!

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Next SWEbinar: Monday, March 17!

SWEbinar CliffsideMarch 2014 SWEbinars

Each month, our own Director of Education, “Miss Jane” Nickles, will be leading a webinar on “How to Pass the CSW.”  Over the course of 2014, she’ll be covering the entire Study Guide, as well as handing out study tips, providing the “tales of the vine” behind the famous wines, and taking your comments and questions.

The second set of installments in our CSW Review Series SWEbinars is scheduled for March, 2014.

These identical sessions will cover grape varieties and viticulture – chapters 3 and 4 in the CSW Study Guide.

These sessions will be first come, first served, and each has a capacity of 100 attendees.  Suggested drink-along beverages:  Gavi di Gavi,  Pink Champagne on Ice, or Espresso.

Logon Instructions:  At the appointed time, just click on the link.  When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.”  Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity.  We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering each SWEbinar a minimum of three times, but its still a good idea to log on early!

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time.

Invitations will go out via email to the SWE Membership at the beginning of each month, but you can keep up with the schedule and access the webinar home site here at this page.

Click here for the 2014 SWEbinar Calendar

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org


SWEbinars To Start February 12!

SwebinarMark your calendar for Wednesday, February 12th at 10:00 AM (central time) for the first in a series of SWEbinars!

Each month, on the second Wednesday, our own Director of Education, Jane Nickles, will be leading the first in a series of webinars designed to help you study for the CSW. Over the course of 2014, she’ll be covering the entire Study Guide, as well as handing out study tips, providing the “tales of the vine” behind the famous wines, and taking your comments and questions.

Invitations will go out via email to the SWE Membership at the beginning of each month, but you can keep up with the schedule, access the webinar home site, and, as we complete the events, you’ll be able to access recordings on the  SWEbinar page on our blog.

Our first SWEbinar is scheduled to be: 

  • February 12 – CSW Chapters 1 & 2:  Wine Defined
  • Join Jane Nickles, SWE’s Director of Education, for a CSW Review Session covering chapters 1 & 2 in the Study Guide.  For best results, read the chapters ahead of time, come prepared with questions and comments, and get ready to learn! 
  • Suggested drink-along beverage:  Tavel for those on the East Coast, Diet Coke for those in the Central Time Zone, and Coffee for those out West. Cheers!
  • You don’t need to register in advance, just join the classroom at the designated time!
  • On February 12, at 10:00 am (Central Time) Click here to join the session 
  • When joining the session, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name or nickname, and join us!

webinarIf you’ve never attended an Adobe Connect  webinar before, you might want to click on the session link ahead of time to check out the system requirements.  Most likely, you won’t need any additional downloads, but if you plan to use a mobile device you may get better reception by using the Adobe Connect App (its free).

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org



News Flash! The CSW Study Guide is now an eBook!

Do any of these describe you?

  1. iBooksAt least once a week you freak out because you can’t find your phone, and then you realize it’s in your hand.
  2. You sleep with your iPad plugged into a charger next to you, within easy reach…or worse…your iPad is in the bed, on the pillow next to you.
  3. You’re afraid of flying, not because of claustrophobia or motion sickness, but because they might make you turn off your Kindle for five minutes.

If any of these apply to you, you might be addicted to your P.E.D.  But then, you already knew that!

If you, or someone you love, is a confessed P.E.D. addict, hopefully, life just got a little bit better – because you never have to be without your CSW Study Guide again!

Kindle BetterBy popular demand (you know who you are…) the 2014 edition of the CSW  Study Guide is now available as an eBook! 

Available through both Amazon and iTunes, the electronic version of the CSW Study Guide has all the pictures, maps, and detailed information you need to study for the CSW Exam – exactly as is contained in the hard copy version.

Click on the Study Guide for a quick link to Amazon.

If you have any questions or comments about our new eBooks, please contact SWE’s Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, CWE – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here to return to the SWE Website.


CSW Workbook Preview!

CSW Wine Map Exercise - ItalyWith a pending publication date of March 1, 2014…we are putting the finishing touches on our new CSW Workbook!!  This comprehensive study tool will feature 29 map exercises and over 150 pages worth of materials designed to help the serious student master the copious amount of information contained in the new CSW Study Guide. (It should be fun, as well!)

As a preview of coming atractions, we offer you this sample Wine Map Exercise covering the main cities and wine regions of Italy.  Click the links below the picture to download a pdf of both the map exercise and the answer key.

Stay tuned to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for updates and more information on the soon-to-be-released workbook!  Good luck with your studies!

Click here to download a copy of the CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

Click here to download a copy of the Answer Key – CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org


Cash and Prizes: Recap Quiz for December 2013

Wine Tasting Red Wine Glass Happy New Year from SWE!!!

To celebrate the new year, we are offering a special prize for this month’s recap quiz….a FREE sitting of the CSW or CSS Exam, including a Study Guide.

Questions for the recap quiz come exclusively from the educational material posted to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for the month. This month’s quiz has 10 questions that cover the topics and information included in our posts for the month of December 2013.

To refresh your memory, our posts for the month of December were:

  • Wine Book Review – “The Nose” by James Conaway (December 5)
  • The Legacy of Peter Jahant (December 8)
  • The Egg Nog Riots of 1826 (December 10)
  • Coda di Volpe – The Tail of the Fox (December 14)
  • The Ice Wine Fiasco of 2011 (December 19)
  • Cheers to the Kir Royale! (December 24)
  • U.S. Distillery License #1 (December 28)

scantronEveryone who takes and passes the quiz with 100% of the questions correct by January 10, 2014 (midnight CST) will have their names put into a drawing for the prize! You can take the quiz over and over again if you like…it’s all about the education!

The winner will be notified via email on January 11.

Click here for a link to the quiz.

If you have any questions, contact us at:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org .

Update:  Congratualtions to Denise H. of Nashville, Tennessee who won our Recap Quiz Contest for December!  Denise is new to the study of wine, but is going to take the CSW Exam in June!! Good luck, and congrats!

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Wine Book Review: “The Nose” by James Conaway

the nose red wineThe Nose, a novel by James Conaway, in a nutshell:  Agatha Christie meets Sideways meets Bonfire of the Vanities in a delicious tale of  the perfect wine and a vain, self-satisfied, and extremely influential wine critic on the loose in Napa Valley.

This is a fun book:  not long after we meet Clyde Craven-Jones, aka “The Nose,” we’re invited to join him for a typical Thursday morning, consisting of blind-tasting the week’s crop of newly released vintages and grading them on his patented numbered scale.  (The lead character’s similarity to another (never named) influential wine critic with a similar such graded scale is hard to miss.)

Not long after the nose sniffs out his weekly winners, a mystery bottle of Cabernet arrives at his door.  He sniffs, he sips, he spits, and declares it to be a perfect 20 – an accolade he has never granted before.  The mystery begins as C-J tries to locate the producer of the “perfect 20.”  His quest comes to an abrupt end when our critic is found, face down, floating in a vat of newly-fermented Cabernet. The scene somehow manages to be gruesome and funny at the same time.

The NoseAfter C-J’s untimely death, his widow continues the quest to find the producer of the perfect Cab.  Along the way, we meet a bumbling cub reporter, a biodynamic farmer, a blonde bombshell, and more than a few greedy producers of cultish techno-wine.   A friendly crew of wanna-be wine writers, fashionistas, and wine lovers savant try to help solve the mystery but mostly just hang out and drink amazing wine at a seedy bar called The Wine Glass – and you just can’t help but want to join them.

James Conaway’s books on the California wine scene – including Napa: The Story of an American Eden and its sequel, The Far Side of Eden, are surely already well-known to both fans and serious students of California wine. Wine lovers, as well as those that enjoy a good mystery and perhaps even a slightly snarky comedy-of-manners, California style, will enjoy The Nose as well. (Holiday Gift Alert!)

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

The New CSW is here!

New CSW SpainThe Society of Wine Educators is proud to announce the publication and release of its 2014 Edition of the Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide.  This latest version, which hit the streets on October 1, 2013, is updated, expanded, and improved in many ways!

The first thing you may notice about the new study guide is its appearance.  The new “lay-flat” style makes for a more compact and transportable study guide; it’s easier to carry to your study group or pack into a carry-on suitcase.  The new version is also printed in full color with over 100 color photographs and 40 newly-created, colorful wine maps.

Despite its more compact style, the new study guide is over 300 pages long – that’s a full 50 pages of additional information compared to the last edition, which was published in 2010.  Look for comprehensive updates on the rules and regulations that have affected the wine world in the last four years, as well as expanded coverage of the smaller wine producing regions both in Europe and the New World. Sections on sensory evaluation, food and wine pairing, and wine service have also been significantly updated and expanded, and now include teaching tools such as the SWE Logical Tasting Rationale and a Wine Aroma Checklist.

New CSW VitiThe new wine maps are such an important part of the study of wine that we have made them available not just in the printed version of the study guide, but online as well.  All of the maps included in the study guide, and some additional maps as well, are accessible e electronically on the SWE Blog, “Wine, Wit, and Wisdom.”  You are encouraged to access the maps electronically for computer-based study or to download full-page copies of the maps for ease of use.  The electronic address is:  http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/swe-wine-maps/ .

As you may have noticed, the world of wine is in a constant state of change.  In the last month alone, there has been a  change in the terminology used for VDP wines in the Rheingau, and no less than four new AVA’s approved for the state of California.  Here at SWE we are doing our best to keep our study materials up-to-date and our members informed of the latest happenings in the world of wine. To that end, we have created a “Study Guide Update” page on our blog.  Any changes in EU Regulations, re-naming of wine regions, newly-approved AVAs, or industry changes of any kind that affect the information in the new study guide will be noted here. (Note: any information that changes after the publication of the study guide will not be included on the CSW exam, but is provided for informational purposes  only.)

New CSWIf you are studying for the CSW using a 2010 Study Guide, there is no need to worry.  All CSW Exams that occur between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014  will include only those questions based on subject matter that is covered in both the 2010 Study Guide and the 2014 edition. After April 1, 2014, all CSW Exam questions will be drawn solely from the new Study Guide.

We sincerely hope that the new Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide meets your professional wine education needs and we wish you the best of luck with your studies!

Click here to return to the SWE Website

The Stout Report: Advice to a Young Wine Professional

SWE's new President, Guy Stout, MS

SWE’s new President, Guy Stout, MS, CSS, CWE

Our new President, Guy Stout, MS, CSS, CWE, has a few words of advice for young wine professionals!

The Stout Report: Advice to a Young Wine Professional

During a recent dinner with Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, we were discussing how we, as established wine professionals, could advise the next generation of sommeliers and wine industry leaders. As you can imagine, it was quite a conversation!

Here are a few of our thoughts as to what skills and experiences could help young wine professionals be better at what they do, and help pave the way for a successful future. Here’s hoping someone out there is listening!

Travel: It’s the best thing you can do, both for your career and yourself.  My first ever visit to a vineyard was TV Munson’s experimental plot in Denison, Texas. The vineyard, which dates to the 1890’s, is next to a small airport landing strip, and it wasn’t at all what I expected.  When traveling, you never know what you may find.

Passion:  No one starts in the wine industry for the money (although that may come later). However, everyone starts in the wine industry because of a passion.  It’s a good thing, too, as I can teach wine, but I can’t teach passion

Grenache TopCognitive Thinking: Don’t just memorize grapes and places – it takes more than book smarts to grow in the wine trade. Read a book on bull riding, and then go ride a bull (just kidding about the bull.) You will, however, find out quickly that you didn’t really know a thing about bull riding until you felt that bull move.  For further insight, see “travel,” above.

Don‘t be a snob: Trust me, the world already has too many wine snobs.  You don’t want to be the person who always has a better bottle or vintage story (they get gossiped about behind their backs, they just don’t know it, and you didn’t hear that from me).  One for thing:  don’t be afraid to drink out of plastic cups – it won’t kill you!

Don’t worry if you get a wine wrong in a blind tasting: If you follow your tasting grid – either in your head or with a pencil and paper – you will get it “wrong for the right reasons” – and get it right the next time.

Share what you have: Wine is meant to be shared. The most memorable wines I have ever had were those I shared with friends.

Learn your limits: Don’t be the one who gets carried out of a big tasting by your friends. (Even more important: don’t be the one who gets kicked out.) This is very bad form and assures that you will be remembered – for all the wrong reasons.

wine and salmonLearn to cook: Knowing food and wine starts with knowing how to cook (and your friends will love you even more.) As we say in Texas, “Eat more chikin!” Burgers and Bordeaux makes for a great party, by the way!

Don’t get a visible tattoo: Ok, I am old school but truth be told, I don’t like to see tattoos on servers or somms.

The customer is always right: Even when they are wrong, and even when it hurts to admit it. But be advised – I have friends who have lost good jobs over this.

Taste with a group: Share the cost of wines, share your opinions, and make some friends (in a few years you can call them your “network”).

Ask Yourself: Why did you choose wine? Where do you hope it will lead you?

One final note:  Be kind to your mother – I have spent more than 30 years working in the wine & spirits industry and my mother still wants me to get a real job.

Cheers… Guy



Tour de Blog 2013

Corks and CorkscrewWelcome to the Tour de Blog 2013!

We’ve been busy adding lots of resources here at Wine, Wit, and Wisdom, and thought we’d let you know about some of them.  Hopefully, you will find some of these helpful in your studies, or with the classes you are teaching~!

Wine Maps! If you are studying for the CSW, CWE, or planning on teaching a class, SWE’s wine maps are now available on-line.  This makes for very convenient studying from your mobile device, or as a printable resources. Click here for links to all of the SWE Wine maps, which are available both as webpages and pdfs.

Wine Links! The SWE Blog provides one of the most comprehensive lists of links to quality wine websites available on the internet.  For instance, did you know that a database called “E-Bacchus” lists every AOP/PGI wine in the European Union? And its daddy database, the European Union’s department of Agricultural and Rual Development lists every AOP and PGI-designated agricultural product, from Walnuts from Périgord, Lavender Oil from Haute-Provence, and Chickens from Bresse (not to mention all the cheeses).

Whether you are researching Fitou or Fino, Madeira or Modena, you’ll find useful links on our site. Click here for our wine links page.

Games and Quizzes! One of our goals at SWE is to provide our community with educational tools and activities.  While we are just getting started, if interactive wine quizzes are your thing, click on the category “games and quizzes” to be directed to our current offerings.

SWE Exam Calendar! We get lots of inquiries about the availability of SWE Certification Exams, and the latest, greatest, up-to-datest version is always available on the SWE Website, which you can access here.

Information on SWE’s Education and Certification Offerings! If you are interested in more information about the CSW, CWE, CSS, or Beverage Specialist, all of the best information is to be found on our website, which you can access by clicking here.

red wine tasting line up of glassesContact information for the SWE Home Office! If you need to speak with a customer service representative, need help navigating the catalog or have a question for our educational and certification consultant, just click here for contact information.

It’s our goal to become your trusted source of wine and spirits news and knowledge…if there is anything else you would like to see us tackled here on the blog, just let us know!