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Dr. Dale Archer is a returning student to Napa Valley Wine Academy from Lake Charles, Louisiana. He is a Medical Doctor, board certified Psychiatrist and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author and now add WSET graduate to his accomplishments. In this installment of our student spotlight, get to know Dr. Dale Archer:

  1. Why did you begin studying wine?

I have been a collector and drinker of wine off and on for over 30 years and it recently hit me that I actually knew very little about it other than what tasted good to me. I am at a stage in life where I have the time to take courses to learn about what I have been drinking all of these years.

  1. Why did you choose Napa Valley Wine Academy?

I did online research and it would have been easier to go somewhere close to where I live. But, I decided that I wanted to go to the epicenter of American wine, Napa Valley. Indeed, I found that the culture of wine there, which permeates the entire region, added to the learning experience, almost like osmosis.

  1. Is there something you learned in your studies that really stuck with you?

Yes, two things:

One concept came from Curtis Mann while in WSET Level 2. He made a point that if you want to drink a truly outstanding bottle of wine, the place to do that is in your home. You will pay triple to get that same bottle in a restaurant. Now I use restaurants to try intriguing new wines instead of trying to find the best bottle on the menu.

The next came from Tim Hanni MW who highlighted the incorrect perception that only novice wine drinkers like sweet wine and that as a wine palate matures drinkers eventually graduate to dry wines from Burgundy or Bordeaux. I grew up as a kid in a home with a cellar. My dad and I drank big reds, while mom loved sweet wines and we always made fun of that. Tim helped me realize that our DNA and genetics determines what we like far more than palate “sophistication”. I love Tim’s great book, “Why You Like the Wines You Like”.

  1. How do you plan to use your education?

Wine is a hobby for me, I have no plans to enter the wine business, though I do plan to continue with my wine education. I have only a few things in life that I truly enjoy as a hobby and I want to keep wine as one of them.

  1. If you were to begin a new course tomorrow, what topic interests you the most?

My interest now is in American Wine. I am a big believer that the longer the shipping distance the more the wine loses along the way (there needs to be a study on this). Now this is not scientific, but a few years back we went on a trip to France and tried the same wine at my house, in New York, London and finally at the Chateau. It got a little better each step of the way. America is diverse enough geographically and climactically that we should be able to make a world class wine from every single varietal.

  1. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?

Duck gumbo (one of my specialties) with a big Napa Cab! I had to give a shout out to my Louisiana roots.

  1. What is your favorite wine restaurant?

Obviously there are many great options, but I love Brennan’s in New Orleans. Their wine list is like an encyclopedia. Also they are the most famous for an old South New Orleans breakfasts which starts at 8AM- it’s not a brunch! It’s the only place in the world (to the best of my knowledge) where you can drink world-class wines with breakfast! I would definitely recommend that everyone give it a try the next time you are in New Orleans.

  1. What bottle would you open if you could open any wine tonight?

It would have to be an Haut-Brion ’89. Back when I had a large cellar, I had a case of the ‘89. The cellar was destroyed by Hurricane Rita (the un-talked about hurricane that hit one month after Katrina) and I often wonder how that wine would taste today. I’ll have to try to find a bottle soon; it should be around its peak right about now.

As you can imagine, Dale got totally out of wine for 5 years to mourn the loss of his cellar. He went to beer and whisky and gradually starting dipping his toe back into the wine world. Welcome back to wine Dale! We look forward to helping you continue with your love of wine.

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