Hi! My name is Cyrus Tchahardehi, and I am the co-founder and head of learning at Intovino.
I started my career in wine in 1994, when I joined the Montagne St-Emilion Wine College.
I’ll never forget my first day!
They had organised a wine tasting at the end of the first morning with all the first-year student.
It was for me one of the most embarrassing moments ever…
All the other students started discussing the wines we were tasting, using words I literally couldn’t understand! It felt as though I had landed on another planet. I was hiding at the back of the group, nodding and smiling, praying nobody would turn to me and ask me my thoughts.
WINE COLLEGE IN BORDEAUX
But, I was lucky to have some great people around me. These teachers and mentors, helped me learn quickly and catch up with the rest of the students.
And that was the beginning of my love story with wine!
I first focused hard on learning to taste wine and really understand it. I worked like crazy on developing my sense of smell and my palate.
Then I built my knowledge brick by brick, focusing on learning everything about Bordeaux and South West France wines.
After graduating, I went on to head the wine department of a large French supermarket group.
It was in 1998 that I moved to the United Kingdom to become sommelier of a famous restaurant in the Oxfordshire countryside.
A year later, I was head of the wine department of Partridges of Kensington, a famous royal grocer. It was also then that I decided to pass my diploma (at the famous WSET school in London) after having had my Level 3.
It was then that I decided to work for wineries. I went on to work for some of the most prestigious estates around the world.
Estates in Italy, Spain, the USA, Australia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, South Africa and of course France. I joined the Boisset Group in 2005 which not only allowed me to truly develop my knowledge of Burgundy and discover in great depth this amazing region…
But it was also the start of a new passion: teaching people about wine.
From basic, wine 101 courses all the way to teaching people about the Chablis appellation and all its climates, it was something that I was completely obsessed with. I wanted to get people to learn and understand wine, in a down to earth and approachable way.
I have taught people in some of the greatest hospitality establishments around. Not only in Europe, but around the globe.
I taught wine in places such as: Hilton Hotels, W Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, St Regis, The Dorchester Hotel, Sheraton Hotels, to name but a few.
I then decided that I didn’t only want to teach professionals, but I was more interested in teaching wine enthusiasts.
It was at that point that I co-founded Vinoa, a business that would help people discover and learn about wines from around the world.
By the end of 2017 I had the amazing pleasure of having passed the bar of 9,000 people, I had taught wine to!
And my aim is to reach 100,000 people! But I also hope that many of those will themselves go on and teach many others too.
Learning about wine is not for a chosen few, it is not an impossible, lifelong task.
TEACHING WINE IN A NEW WAY
Wine is an amazing product of the earth, and it is something anyone can learn about.
Since 2006, I have worked on how best to teach people about wine.
What is the best way to learn?
Not just to actually learn… but to be able to enjoy your newly found knowledge.
I realised, it is all about learning the things that bring you useful knowledge. Actionable knowledge.
I often compare learning about wine, to learning a language.
There are 2 approaches:
- The first one is to teach you the way you were taught in school… With a lot of theory, lots of rules, lots of exceptions, lots and lots of scholar stuff.
- The other is to focus on teaching you things that help you in the real world. Learning things that will help you enjoy the pleasure of being able to get along in a foreign language. You may not learn the past preterit of “to have” but then again you don’t need to. What you want is to be able to chat with someone in a foreign language.
The first approach is OK if you want to go on to teach, or to become a professional in the wine industry. And there are some great schools around the world who provide that kind of qualification led training.
The second is for the wine passionate people who want to actually enjoy wine… To be able to choose wine confidently, to be able to explore the world of wine. For those who wish to have the skills to pair food and wine, to pick out aromas in a glass of wine and take pleasure discovering the secrets the wine holds.
My approach is the latter.
To help people learn ALL the important things about wine, about a region, about an appellation, without the fluff.
You see, in this way, you’ll learn much, MUCH quicker.
You could be learning languages for years at school and still be incapable of holding any kind of conversation in that languages.
Alternatively, thousands of people are using incredible apps and learning the essentials of a foreign language.
And as a result, in as little as 3 months, they are able to have a conversation in that language.
That is the chance I had when I started at the Viticultural College of Montagne St Emilion… In only a few months I had caught up and even overtaken many of the other students. Not in all the theoretical stuff, but in the “useful knowledge” such as wine tasting, food and wine matching and my knowledge of South West France wines.
And the result was that I was immediately rewarded with that newly found knowledge.
I was rewarded with enjoyment!
And that is what I want to offer at Intovino… I want to teach people things that will help them get more enjoyment and pleasure with wine, quicker!