ABOUT Zelda (from an ABV POV)

Professional writer and editor (published/anthologized/translated pro fiction; pro non-fiction; nationally awarded, staff print journalism; staff technical/medical editing).

Lived/worked over three continents and four climate zones:  Arctic, Continental, Maritime, Mediterranean; visited Sub-Saharan Africa with French-born, West Africa-raised husband. Raising family in a Pacific Maritime wine region. Bilingual and dual-national, both of which are of some use in wine study and in the wine world.

Curiosity about wine and spirits drew me into WSET study, fortified by having lived in four wine regions. Began a text-driven wine blog to uncover my wine writer’s voice. My more spirited and sparkling illustrator’s eye surfaced instead.

ABOUT My Wine Business Experience

I sell value/mid-range/premium wine; corporate/craft spirits; and corporate/craft beer in specialty shops. I also pour wine for agencies and wineries. There is some fun in all this work, since sharing expertise with interested drinkers brings drinks alive. And successfully pairing consumers’ personalities, meals or events is an oddly satisfying exercise. It’s fun to gab about wine!

ABOUT My Artwork

My illustration work has evolved into acrylic works on canvas. I am working on diverse wine themes: some are representative (portraits of wine drinkers), and some are conceptual (abstractions on the theme of specific terroir).


Unit 2

With WSET Intermediate and Advanced complete, my cohort moved directly into Diploma’s Unit 2. David Bird’s Wine Technology took us to our final multiple choice (if they could all be!) exam. MERIT.

Unit 1

Next was Unit 1’s closed-book exam: Chablis or Chardonnay? AOC regulations! We weren’t alone at exam time; a thin wall separated ourselves and a class of Jazz and Calypso students apparently holding their own exam. My heart skipped a Calypso beat when I was only half finished and our instructor called out, “Ten minutes remaining!” The FBI arrested Rudy Kurniawan that week, and I felt it was a toss-up as to who would survive their travail. He didn’t and I did. PASS!

Next, business essay was due. On Good and Bad Packaging, I chose Veuve Clicquot NV and La Gitana Manzanilla for my subjects. Breathed a sigh of relief when my 2900 words were marked PASS. [I’ve enjoyed some modest success in fiction and journalism  —  a national prize, a grant and being anthologized  —  ergo I did something really wrong to only squeak through with a PASS. In hindsight, I wrote too much like a writer and too little like a marketing analyst. Lesson learned. I later wrote a friend’s as a personal favour and earned a MERIT for thinking more like a marketer.]

Units 4, 5, 6

Units 4, 5 and 6. In over my head! I knew as much about spirits, sparkling and fortifieds; AND as much about blind tasting under timed conditions as I know about marketing analysis. Sheer breadth of study stunned me and I studied too little and too late. WSET marker was swiftly wise to the fact. Spirits and Sparkling: FAILS. Fortified: PASS (thanks to the trio of dry sherries that comprised our tasting portion; and the bits of theory I had actually studied)!

Studied and re-sat Spirits. Struck WSET gold (green…) when absinthe was among the theory questions. I had indeed studied absinthe to the point of hallucination. Spat out data on charcoal and Guyanese rum. MERIT on theory and PASS on tasting!

Studied and re-sat Sparkling exam. I had figured good odds on a Cremant question and, as with absinthe, the bet paid. A page on Limoux (plus stats on Pinot Noir and tank method production) earned that PASS. During study I had also wagered on Moscato, which was included in the tasting portion. Finally: Units 4, 5, 6: PASS!

Unit 3

Decided to sit Unit 3 Tasting/Theory exam portions separately. I am a small-sized woman:  whether spitting or drinking, I can’t trust a thought in my head after tasting 12 wines. Unit 3 tasting: PASS!


5 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Introducing Zelda Sydney - - Introducing Zelda Sydney -

  2. Hi! I love these pictures. I’m just starting teaching Level 4 myself (in China!) and love the idea of communicating through humour and pictures. If you would like any of these translated into Chinese, give me a shout – would make a great book!

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