Emmanuel Rosier, sommelier, restaurateur, wine consultant and Star Wine List’s Berlin ambassador, right now studying for both his MS and MW.
Your best general advice when it comes to learning about wine?
”Don’t learn for an exam! You learn because you are passionate about your profession and you want to make sure that your customer gets the best experience possible – always. It is not about selling the most expensive bottle of wine on your wine list, it is about the smile and the gratitude your customer shares with you or his friends. With no passion, why bothering sacrificing time on studying?”
Tell us about your studying routine!
”I am a workhorse when it comes to studying. But I need discipline, I get easily distracted – damn you Facebook and Instagram and other social media, Netflix or Amazon Prime!”
”So I write a plan for the next four months on a huge piece of paper. I write all I need to learn, allocating enough time to go through everything (knowing my lack of discipline sometimes). But I stick to it. For each category I am learning, I am going through the same 12 steps of learning, that brings me structure. I am going through each region, subregions, soils, grapes, winemaking laws, producer, single vineyards, vintages... I can't remember everything. But I try!”
”Every day, I am up at 8.00 (for someone working in gastronomy, that is damn early, right?), go for a run for 45 mins or 1 hour every 5 days. I am doing some fitness exercises for the other 4 days, this is the best stimulant I found for better learning.”
How do you get the knowledge to stick in your head, rather than forgetting after just a short while?
”At work, there is always music playing. So I have selected a playlist for every main region and/or country. When I hear a tune on the radio, in a club or on Spotify, it brings me to a place, a time or a memory. Now I applied this to my studies, to my flashcards, maps, books and I try to visualise as much as possible in those few seconds listening to a tune!”
”I also try to draw a map in my head, remembering keywords and make a path to what I need to remember. Having said that, there are things I find extremely hard to remember. For example, I really struggle with Italy, Spain and South America, it doesn’t speak to me. But things like Greece, Sake, Germany/Austria or Burgundy are a lot easier for me to understand and to remember.”
”But the one thing I find important is that you should never learn alone. There are so many other people learning and wanting to pass their exams – whether it’s WSET, Court of Master Sommelier or ASI. Getting engaged with a bunch of ’fellow’ students, challenging each other and asking/answering questions make it more motivating to remember stuff. It stimulates our ego and we want to show to one another that we do know something... With those apps like Skype, Zoom, House Party, WhatsApp, whatever you fancy more, no one can say it is not possible to get connected and learn with someone else even these days.”
Theory or practice – where do you start?
”I am kind of a geek, so my main focus is the theory. Many other Master Sommeliers and fellow students are advising me that I should focus on the tasting or the practice. In learning and pushing in my theory, I also work on my practice and tasting. I learn each grape variety that is regarded as a classic. I have a glass (yes, just one glass) of wine with me during my learning session. I describe it before I taste it and I try the wine every 30 minutes afterwards until the glass is empty to see how the wine evolves and how long it stays fresh. That teaches me a hell of a lot about the producer, the region, the climate, the vintage and the grape of course.”
Do you use any special tools? Like apps, maps, flashcards, etcetera?
”I’m using all I can find – the only one that I avoid by all means is Wikipedia… I have drawn maps myself using many different books, like Tom Stevenson's Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, Hugh Johnson's and Jancis Robinson's World Wine Atlas Joanie Metivier’s Map booklet, Wine Folly... I draw many different maps for the same regions to remember regions, sub-regions, communes, rivers, wind, mountains, valleys, producers, single vineyards, grapes, and so on.”
”I have written a fair amount of flashcards for my advanced exams in 2018, and I am now going through each and every one of them to update them and add more information (deeper knowledge) for my Master's exams this year, in October. I use any official websites as well to cross-check everything. There are plenty of things that are good to know, but do we need to know them?”