Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Indulge... just a little

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Kung Fu Girl
Select Brand’s Debra Taylor (left) and Tania McConnell, flank Chris Jones, who represents the Montes line of wines from Chile.

By definition, the verb indulge means to allow oneself the pleasure of. In this particular case, we can make it vino.

The evolution of the wine industry in Jamaica can't help but make you want to indulge in the growing trend. Not only have we increased the number of brands and varietals now available locally, but those from just about all the major wine regions in the world. The latest development will take our wine culture of indulgence to the next level through education.

Local purveyor Select Brands has now achieved Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Approved Program Provider (APP) status as the official representative of the Wines and Spirits Education Trust in Jamaica. This is a huge break-through for Jamaica, to now being able to internationally certify members of the food and beverage industry and any wine enthusiast. This certainly will go a long way in the evolution of the wine industry in Jamaica, strengthening our wine culture.

This accreditation issued to the newly formed Select Brands Institute of Wines and Spirits will enable them to offer WSET Level 1 & 2 qualifications. Level 1 will focus on the fundamentals, styles of wines, an approach to tasting, common varietals, service and pairings. This is ideal for any food and beverage staff to pursue, along with persons with a general interest in learning more about wine. Knowledge is power and it will only augment the food and beverage industry.


Level 2 looks more at the mechanics of winemaking, how wine is made and the things that influence the outcome, even from the same varietals, with a lot more detail than Level 1. It gets into wine-producing regions and some varietals unique to specific geographical spaces, like my almighty Malbec from Argentina. Paying attention to winemaking methods, the course can't help but explore sparklings and fortified wines while demystifying the confusion between, old- and new-world wines which, as non-Europeans, we often have a problem with.

The programme is being led by two seasoned veterans of the wine industry despite their very youthful disposition - Tania McConnell, corporate marketing manager, and Debra Taylor, trade development manager, both of Select Brands. Not only are they qualified, holding WSET Level 3 qualifications, but they are truly passionate about wines, and you get that from every conversation you have with them. Spending time with them over these past few years is a constant learning experience for me, and I am sure any person opting to truly explore wines will certainly benefit from the knowledge and passion.

For further course details you can visit their website or shoot them an email


My wine pick this week is something new to the shelves that is worthy of indulgence. I first had this a few years ago in the days of famed wine bar Bin26, and now it has become a bit less boutique and available in the wider retail market.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling is from Washington State and not from Asia, as the name might suggests. I would simply describe it as juicy, crisp and refined. Flavours of peach, apricot, with a mineral-like finish make it an exceptional wine to try. You can certainly enjoy it on its own, but if you are like me and like spicy Indian food, give thought to this - a great food-pairing option. POW!

Happy indulgence! Cheers!

- I am not an expert merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and options. Feel free to share your comments or questions to