On Monday 12th December, just under 40 members of Women in Wine London met at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust office for the last event of 2016. In what was a new format for us, we traded in our usual panel discussion for three short presentations from three very accomplished women on a recent development relating to their career; Vicky Burt MW, Clara Rubin and Anne McHale MW.
Vicky Burt MW (Research & Development Manager, WSET) kicked off the evening as our first speaker with an overview of her findings from her MW research paper: 'What is the best glass for Champagne?' She went through her extensive methodology to assess both the physical and psychologicalreasons why certain glasses are better for Champagne. Running tests on fully sited and blindfolded WSET 2 and 3 students, she asked them to nose and rate Champagne in different Riedel shaped flutes. Her findings showed that in both groups there was a preference to a specific glass but that this was even more dramatic a preference in those who were sited for the tasting. She concludes that regardless of the quality in the bottle, the glassware has huge factor in the consumer's overall experience and suggests that producers may want to consider this.
Clara Rubin DipWSET (Educator, Veraison) spoke about her journey in developing Berkmann Wine Cellar’s wine education offering, which eventually grew to become Veraison, a standalone entity. Aiming at giving confidence to the on-trade when serving wine, the Veraison courses are short, accessible and engaging. Clara identified her mission as being to vanquish the Type 2 wine ego which causes 'fear of embarrassment' when learning about wine, which stops us from asking questions or sharing info, and instead championing the Type 1 wine ego which says 'I do not mind admitting I’m still learning'. It was certainly no small feat to set this up this program on her own, and Clara commented how rewarding it has been to reap the successes. She and her fellow educator have taught 30 businesses and 1,700 people between them so far since the launch in July.
Anne McHale MW was the final speaker and gave an insightful talk on the 'Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed'. Earlier this year, Anne decided to strike it out on her own, after having worked at Berry Bros & Rudd for 10 years in the Wine School team. Now, as an independent wine consultant, she focuses on helping businesses with their wine lists and education programmes. She talked about the daunting aspects of leaving an otherwise secure and comfortable work life but that, for her, the benefits do outweigh them, as she enjoys the autonomy and the flexibility. She says she sees this as an exciting time to be in the wine trade as consumers are opening up to new styles and we’re seeing a greater diversity of wine hit our shores than ever before.
As always, the audience asked some fantastic questions and, most importantly, worked their way through the festive piles of mince pies, paté, cheese and charcuterie. The wine of the evening was the English sparkling we had to start: Balfour Leslie’s Reserve NV, a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier blend, which showed delicious crisp yellow apple and brioche notes.