I was raised in a beer and spirits environment (North Philly isn't exactly known for its wine culture), but when I discovered wine, I was hooked and fell madly in love.

“It’s California,” I said to myself. “How hard could it be?” It was pretty damn challenging as it turned out. “This was a walk in the park,” said no CWAS student. Ever.

Guri Stark painting
For instance, we like to "pair" our dancing with the proper music. Waltzing at a rap concert? Break dancing with Bluegrass? I think not.

I know wine. I just have to have the pieces of papers (and pins) to prove to others that I do. Master level? Well, maybe. After all, while I'm at it...

It's not unusual to do an overnight road trip to a "Wine Country" and back over the course of a weekend. Yes, it's so close that even a tourist to Las Vegas could take a couple of days to visit Wine Country. How great is that?

As I used to tell my friends about my working as a barback, it was the hardest work I ever did for minimum wage in my life.

While whether I'm actually nuts or not may be a topic of endless debate...

Yours truly isn't completely innocent of wine overspeak, by the way. I vaguely recall - in the pre website-getting-hacked days - describing a Pinotage as "pugilistic."

Jocularity aside, I was surprised at what I already knew, what I learned, and how I applied it in the final. I rock, frankly. And so I decided to celebrate.