Taking note of the stories

One of the things about parenting is that the learning never ends. "Oh, you got comfortable with your kid? Lemme just change shit up for you, for the sheer hell of it." - universe.

So after a few years now of seemingly constant learning and adapting to mom life it seems like it shouldn't feel this hard to learn new things when it comes to my sommelier studies. I have passion for the subject (c'mon, we're talking about wine here...) which I'd say is a key success factor when it comes to learning something new. But for real, mom brain. It's a thing.

My second course (Grape Varietals) started a week ago. I scored a 91% in my first course (Wine Tasting)...I have little reason for including this information in this post other than to unhumble brag. 

So while there's hundreds of grapes used for wine, this course will get into the weeds on 41 of them. Which is still a shit ton o' grapes. I'm finding it so hard to remember the names of grapes, their favourite soil conditions, the diseases they are susceptible to, what they look and taste like, their regions of origin and so on. The details seem so obvious when I read them and then I close my notes to pull a Cheerio out of my kid's hair or mop up some spilled milk or search for the tiny shoes that go on the Elsa doll (disclosure: I threw these out long ago...teeny tiny pieces make me crazy, but on occasion I still need to pretend to help look for them) and it all just evaporates.

One of the challenges I'm facing is in the simple act of note taking. I tried taking my notes in Evernote but then found it a bit awkward to manoeuvre my laptop without spilling the tasting glasses or my water glass on the table. Also I don't retain the same amount of info when I type as I do when I write notes by hand.

So I scrapped the computer and went with a trusty notebook and pen. But then I was getting too caught up in detailing notes that I was forgetting to really listen and would inevitably fall behind and miss something.

Then I switched to physical, colour coded cue cards but they were hard to manage and my kid kept taking them to play with. At which point I downloaded a cue card app on my phone which I found useful for quizzing myself before the midterm and final exam but not super great for getting into bigger concepts. 

My latest attempt has been to preview the course notes (sent out in advance), take pages of my own notes by hand based on these notes, and then supplement the notes with whatever interesting details get added in class. I'm feeling pretty positive about this approach so far, but HOLY CRAP am I overthinking it? How did I get through university? Or high school for that matter? 

Mostly I like the grapes that have stories, and I can remember a lot about them, without taking notes at all. I love that the Rhône Rangers brought Viognier back into style after it lost it's touch in the 80s. I feel sad that a simple rant made Merlot drop in sales and popularity by 30%, but excited that Pinot Noir leaped in to take it's place. Go Pinot!

Maybe every grape has a story, I just need to learn what they are. 

Mama's recommended wine pairing:

Occasion: when you hear a really great story from someone you've just met, and you have that feeling when you're thinking about it later. You know the feeling, the one that leaves you with a little smirk on your face as it replays in your head and you can totally visualize what it must have been like to be there. That's a great feeling. 

Wine pairing: for an instance like this, you'll want some time to sit back and savour the story. I'd recommend a deep-ruby coloured Carménère like this one. Something you can sink your nose close to, inhale a deep jammy blackberry aroma and be swept into the moment to enjoy the story all over again in your memory.  


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