The professional world of wine has evolved more and more in recent years. Many people interested in a career change or even a life change are showing deep motivation for the world of gastronomy, attracted by a passion for food and wine pairing combined with a real pleasure around the art of tasting.
A COMMUNICATIVE PASSION
The professional training offers on the market are more and more numerous, displaying varied programmes. Ranging from well-known and recognized schools such as L'Ecole du Vin in Paris, the COAM, the school at the Cave de Tain, surrounded by vineyards in the heart of the Rhône Valley in Tain l'Hermitage, also approved centers for the classic international training of the WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust), a reference in the oenological world to the many freelancers who have been convinced by a career change pursuing their passion into wine (L'Accord Divin, created in 2014 by Matthieu Maynadier near Toulouse, Déjeunons sur l'herbe created by a reconverted woman for a few years, going from the pharmaceutical industry to oenology, Stéphanie Hennion in Lille, etc.).
In a nutshell, there are many training courses available on the market. Every wine lover will be able to find her/his happiness there according to her/his expectations, her/his desires but also her/his availability and geographical position.
THE ACADEMY, AN EXTRA ACTIVITY FOR THE MEDIA !
Short or long trainings, I take you through this article to the discovery of recent programme launched in 2020 by an old and re-known French wine magazine, La Revue du Vin de France also known as RVF Academy. This famous magazine exists since 1927, gathering all news from the wine world, tasting notes from experts and introduction to wine estates. The magazine belongs to the enterprise Marie Claire, a media group which already owns another education school dedicated to cosmetics professions, the Marie Claire Academy. This time, the group decided to focus on gastronomy and more specifically on oenology.
This programme has been created in partnership with Franck Thomas, a re-known sommelier who received numerous honours and medals including the Best Sommelier of Europe, the Best Sommelier of France and the Best Craftsman of France (known as MOF, Meilleur Ouvrier de France). He owns his own school, Institut de formation, for more than twenty years in the Côte d'Azur (Antibes, near Nice) where he educates people to a passionate job, some of them now work in re-known international places.
INTUITION AT THE HEART OF TASTING
Franck Thomas lives and works through his passion daily and deeply wishes to transmit this emotion to any wine lover through the practice of intuitive tasting and "let it go" exercises, inspired by meditation techniques and sophrology :
"Intuitive tasting allows you to intimately access the message of the wine, to understand it with your own emotions, your feelings, images and words but also through any and all related body senses. This practice helps anyone with a better understanding of her/his way of perceiving and tasting a wine because everyone receives the message of wine differently."
ANALYTICAL, INTUITIVE AND GEO-SENSORY METHODS
Franck Thomas has joined La Revue du Vin de France Academy to develop an original and creative wine tasting programme, integrating different tasting methodologies. A combination of three tasting perspectives on subjects for which we are not necessarily comfortable with on a daily basis and which can change the direction of our lives: a call to our intuition, to our feelings and to the emotions, specific to everyone... Just learn to let it go!
At the Academy, you will discover the practice of intuitive tasting combined to an old method dating back to the Middle Ages and that was practiced for a long period in History and forgotten at the French Revolution (1789). the geo-sensory tasting. Feeling the terroir through the wine texture in the mouth, considering the salivation contact, its location in the palate along with its intensity was a technique mastered by the Cistercian monks who are also at the origin of the landscapes creation and delimited wine plots in Burgundy, the famous Climats de Bourgogne.
Finally, we retrieve in the programme the most famous tasting technique, the analytical approach or organoleptic, developed in this school through a less academic approach in order to make the content more approachable and more pleasant. This education approach is deeply inspired by the Montessori system, because the motto here focuses on the quest of pleasure.
SOME SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS AS GUEST STAR
To support the content of these training courses, Franck Thomas is collaborating with specialists such as Gabriel Lepousez, a researcher specialized in neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, also working at the Ecole du Nez from Jean Lenoir (the Nose School in Paris). Gabriel brings scientific data to the trainings such as explanations on the interaction of saliva and its 1200 proteins in the mouth with wine and the different flavours. He shares his research on the relationship of our brain, the sense of smell and wine tasting.
Moreover, we learn that the mapping of the tongue does not exist. These are reactions of the many taste buds present on our tongue (the acidity of lemon, for example, creates a tightening reaction on the sides of our tongue, but the acidity is detected by all the receptor cells in the mouth).
THE FIFTH FLAVOUR
After an introduction to the saltiness, the sweetness, the bitterness and the acidity, at the Academy, we also learn more about this fifth flavour revealed by the Japanese professor and chemist Kikunae Ikena, and only officially recognized in 1985: the umami. However, Umami, which means delicious or smooth in Japanese, has been a traditional flavour in Japanese cuisine (soy sauce, shitake mushrooms, etc.) for centuries.
It is found in many foods with a creamy flavour such as Parmesan cheese or smoked ham, making their consumption addictive (a protein plays an addiction role into the Human brain). Moreover, this flavour is the holy grail for food manufacturers who do not hesitate to add it to their products, under the better known name of ... glutamate.
Regarding the geo-sensory approach, Franck Thomas also learned a lot and exchanged with Jacky Rigaud, oenologist specialized in terroirs and author of the book “The geo-sensory tasting” or with Jean-Michel Deiss, a famous Alsatian winegrower for whom, tasting a wine means having a glimpse of the terroir where it was produced.
Moreover, this winegrower, passionate about the soil and its environment, had developed a university certification “Towards the wine-growing region through geo-sensory tasting” at the Faculty of Geography and Planning of the University of Strasbourg, where he teaches.
RETURN ON EXPERIENCE
The short term training at the Academy is a great opportunity to confirm your interest in the world of wine and why not, your readiness for a career change? With 3 levels available, from 1 day to 5 day courses, it can suit everyone's agenda easily as confirms Alison who recently took on the level 1 in Lille (France) :
« I wanted to take on the training because the approach corresponds to my way of perceiving wine tasting, namely based on feelings, sensations and pleasure. Whether professional or private, wine is above all a story of pleasure and sharing. With the geo-sensory and intuitive tastings, I was able to find a tasting that reflects myself and in which I do not have the feeling to be wrong. Everyone is different. Every aroma, odour, flavour is unique to everyone. In addition, the idea that the training is of short duration makes it possible to reconcile this with my professional activity, having recently quit my lawyer job for a role into the wine merchant industry. After studying law, I reoriented myself towards the wine sector and the short format of this Academy programme allows me to deepen my knowledge without going back to school for several years and without income. Alternating this type of training with my new job emphasizes my expertise in the wine sector more strongly because you learn by tasting.»
Regarding Julien, after an experience as an operational handler in the food industry, an exhausting and repetitive job to him, he decided to change career and give it a new pulse by taking on a one year course at the Academy to get a diploma of "Sommelier specialized in wine business and gastronomy. His dream? Opening his own wine shop in Amiens (France) :
« I am delighted to have embarked on this adventure, I met some great peers at the Academy and in a few weeks, I learned more interesting topics than I could expect.
Regarding my project, this wine certification programme supports me in the idea that I want to make my passion for wine my future job. I would like to thank Franck Thomas for giving me my chance and Audrey my wine educator in Lille for her patience, passion and devotion. »
BEING A WINE EDUCATOR
I must admit that as a wine educator, being myself into this job after a career change from 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry, it is really rewarding to be able to contribute to everyone's future career in wine and notice this endless passion for a historical beverage that exists for more than 8000 years! I learned so much over the last years by being surrounded by great and inspiring wine experts.
"If there's one thing to remember from wine, it's humility! Indeed, wine is a world of endless knowledge. We learn every day, varying the points of view and practices of each profession, each specialist, each region and each country. I chose this role as a wine educator following my endless thirst for learning every day. With the students but also the winegrowers I meet regularly and the network of educators within the RVF Academy, we exchange our discoveries, wine news, tastings around these new intuitive and geo-sensory approaches. This contributes to the research on these methods!
I like the idea of feeling at the heart of a living encyclopedia on wine whose end will never be written ... And seeing the participants and students leave these pedagogical classes with the desire to pursue their professional project around wine is the reward … Our job is to transmit passions!"
The Academy in key figures:
More than 800 trained participants and students
Courses around the whole of France : Paris, Antibes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille…