IWC News & Press

Meet IWC Instructor May Matta-Aliah, DWS, CWE

IWC News & Press

We believe one of IWC’s greatest strengths is our instructors.  Over the years, we have built a team of knowledgeable and passionate educators to ensure our students receive the best possible instruction. Each one is an expert who holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines & Spirits.  The same care and hard work that they applied to their studies is evident in their teaching. And, above all, they share our common ethic here at IWC that the student is very important to us, and we really want every student to succeed.

 How long have you been teaching at IWC and what courses do you teach?

I’ve been teaching at IWC since 2001. I am currently an instructor for Level 2, Level 3 (Germany, Alsace, Austria, Hungary), and Level 4 (Central and Eastern Europe).

Before you were an instructor at IWC you were a student, tell us about your experience. 

My experience at the IWC was what propelled me to join this wonderful wine profession. The WSET classes at the IWC were my first professional exposure to wine and wine education and I could not have asked for more wonderful mentors and teachers. What started as a personal pursuit to enhance my wine knowledge turned into a full-time career and I could not be more grateful to this wonderful organization that opened the doors to a second career that I truly enjoy. 

Tell us about your degrees, certifications, and accreditations:

  • Diploma in Wines & Spirits, Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET®)
  • WSET® Certified Educator, Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET®)
  • Certified Wine Educator, Society of Wine Educators (SWE)
  • Advanced Sommelier Certification, American Sommelier Association (ASA)
  • French Wine Scholar, French Wine Society (FWS)
  • Spanish Wine Educator, The Wine Academy of Spain
  • International Bordeaux Tutor, Bordeaux Wine School USA
  • Official Bourgogne Wine Instructor, Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB)
  • Academia do Vinho Level 3-Advanced Program, Wines of Portugal
  • Sherry Certified Educator, Consejo Regulador in Jerez
  • Wine Location Specialist Certificate Program, Center for Wine Origins

Did you always hope or plan to work in the industry or did you make a career change?

No, I am one of many career changers in the wine industry. My college education was in Communication Arts (Graphic Design), and that was my first career for 12 years. When I decided to take a break from the deadline-driven world for some mental health maintenance, and take some classes in topics that interested me, I landed in a wine class. The rest, as they say, is history.

We understand you have won a few awards, tell us which ones.

  • Banfi Award recipient for earning the highest score on the Certified Wine Educators (CWE) Exam 
  • First Place winner in a Blind Tasting Competition at the French Wine Society Annual Conference 
  • First Place winner at the Academia do Vinho Level 3-Advanced Program, Wines of Portugal

How has visiting wine regions enhanced your teaching?

There is no substitute for visiting a wine region to really understand it. You can read about the influence of the Vosges mountains all you want, but when you see them in their majesty protecting those beautiful Alsatian vineyards with the grey clouds clinging to the west side of them, you understand the region in a completely different way. That is but one example, there are many… travel often, travel far, travel always!

 Have you been published?

I wrote the entries for Armagnac in the soon to be released Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails.

 Have you come across a food and wine pairing that you were absolutely surprised by?

On a trip to the Sherry region several years ago, I enjoyed a delicious dinner that was paired with various styles of Sherry, all of which I enjoyed, but when a crispy duck breast dish was paired with a aged dry Amontillado Sherry, that just blew me away. 

 What is your advice for someone thinking about embarking on wine and spirit studies?

Follow your heart, study hard, ask questions and seek the advice of people you respect. If it is something that you love, work hard and make it happen.

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