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I was bogged down, coursing through the books and lecture notes, studying furiously all the materials I had given little notice to during the semester when I got back from work. I decided it would be advantageous for me to study with someone from class and luckily that person had the same idea, texting me before I could get to the phone. We planned to rendezvous at my house because, well, it was convenient for me after finishing my long yet enjoyable shift in wine.

I was physically tired but mentally alert (sort of) when my buddy from class made it over. We promptly began studying; reviewing quizzes that we had taken in class and trying to stay au courant with the maps of Australia, Germany, China and anywhere else wine was made. Especially deliberate in mulling over the vinography of California, Oregon and Washington—homeland wine regions that we were expected to know well—and trying desperately to remember all the AVA’s and their place on the cartes.

After an hour’s worth of researching it was time to taste the first wine, taking the tasting portion of the exam seriously, I uncorked a less complex, more serviceable red wine from Corbières (#239 in the to-500-Countdown) by Domaine de Fontsainte, comprised of a majority of Carignan, Grenache Noir and Syrah. On the nose it had a moderately fragrant perfume of red fruits buried beneath the easier-to-detect wet soils and some light dried spices. It was smooth and spiced and a nice supplement to a cumulative review.

We got back into the swing, quizzing each other on specifics from the course like how many anbaugebiete (growing regions) are in Germany and their rank in the classification system as well as naming AVA’s in Idaho. After the esoteric upload, we began craving some interesting grub. My friend was also there for the Loire Valley tasting and we instantly knew that Melanne Thai would be our go-to-eats for the evening.

We studied more, until the food arrived, closing our collective MacBook Pros (very spoiled!) and began divvying up the spicy duck salad, Pad Thai and fried rice, including a portion for my roommate who was forced to stay quiet as we read aloud the files on the Moroccan wines and the most celebrated vineyard in the Bekaa Valley. Trivial?

When we readied our plates, I raided my cellar, yet again; to find the bottle that would best compliment the Thai food. In this case we looked beyond the large cluster of Riesling and called on the lychee rich notes of Trimbach Gewürztraminer (#238). It had the acidity to couple with the spiciness of the food.

The food hit the spot and the wine tied it together, we pressed on, chewing with our mouths open, as we had my roommate test us on even more information during the dinner, until finally we could recite rote responses without dwelling on the question. To put it mildly, the study session was enriching and extremely beneficial.

I nailed the final. The tasting portion of the exam was a breeze, even though I did not correctly identify the second wine in the set, a Cabernet Franc from Rosenthal Vineyards (#237) in Malibu. The first wine happened to be a Pinot Noir—2006 Campion from the Santa Lucia Highlands (#236)—that I could deduce from the transparent coloring of the liquid in the challis and the notes of red cherries, some dried herbs and eucalyptus that are so typical of the varietal.

It was satisfying to know that this course came to an end in a positive way, helping me rundown my count on 500 wines during the year and, act as a liaison between me and the rest of the world’s wine production. My wine horizons have expanded tenfold.

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