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An innovative toolkit for modern wine students, showcasing field-tested service, tasting, and research techniques used by the pros.
An innovative toolkit for modern wine students, showcasing field-tested service, tasting, and research techniques used by the pros.
An innovative toolkit for modern wine students, showcasing field-tested service, tasting, and research techniques used by the pros.
163 backers pledged $10,761 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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A Medium Plus Handbook: Savvy Wine Studies

$10,761

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Who/what is Medium Plus? 

  • Medium Plus LLC is a company created and led by Nick Davis, a bartender and sommelier based in Seattle. Nick has a background in bars and restaurants, and decided to venture out on his own in May of 2015, powered by the spirit of entrepreneurship and challenge. 
  • The name Medium Plus comes from an ambiguous term in wine-tasting vernacular, in reference to an 'elevated' condition of wine, either in color, aroma or structure. In that tone, the mission of Medium Plus is a 'pursuit of elevated wine and cocktails'.
  • Medium Plus features a spectrum of offerings, including fine wine and cocktail service for private events, educational wine and food presentations, and specialized beverage education for individuals and groups.
Nick Davis, of Medium Plus
Nick Davis, of Medium Plus

What is this Kickstarter product, in a few words?

  • This handbook will cover creative and unique strategies for how to learn about wine on an elevated level.
  • Nick was taught some of these strategies while working in bars and restaurants, and in study groups with other sommeliers. He also created some strategies by necessity, while intensely studying for the Advanced Sommelier exam. 

What will this handbook not cover?

  • This is not another exhaustive encyclopedia about the vast world of wine. Those awesome books have already been written! Rather, this is a working toolkit of learning-and-research strategies, intended to assist any enthusiastic student of wine. Select topics from around the world of wine will be referenced in-depth, for the purposes of illustrating these strategies.
Past Medium Plus Event: A French Wine Feature at Eden Hill
Past Medium Plus Event: A French Wine Feature at Eden Hill

Who is this for? 

  • This handbook is written with the beverage professional or serious enthusiast in mind. Many of the topics covered will be very useful for those undertaking the ever-popular sommelier exams, although the subject matter will be applicable and relevant to anyone seeking to elevate their working knowledge of wine, in the areas of theory, tasting and service.  
  • Most importantly, by using these strategies to gain better knowledge and confidence with wine, readers will become even better enthusiasts and sommeliers, in the service of their guests, friends and colleagues.

How will readers use the handbook? 

  • Following an overview introduction to the world of wine from the sommelier's perspective, the guide will dive into specific study strategies (see a list of topics below).
  • One such strategy is memorization. The handbook will explain a memory technique in reference to a wine region, for example, "Memorizing the 1855 Classification for Bordeaux". Once learned, students can then independently apply that memory technique to any wine region of interest, perhaps the Crus of Burgundy, or islands of Greece. It's the old, "teach a person to fish" trick!
  • Another example would be pronunciations. The handbook will go into depth on strategies for learning Italian pronunciation. Those tools can then be used to explore any foreign language, in relation to wine.
  • When appropriate, written topics will be paired with a video accompaniment. From Champagne service to screen-captures of hyper-efficient internet research, these visual aides will cover the gaps that plain text leaves behind.

Why is this product unique and different?

  • Most wine books are filled to the brim with information, without a user's manual for how to unpack the information. This is that manual.
  • Many of the strategies and learning techniques listed in the handbook will be abstract, and off the beaten path. To achieve remarkable results, remarkable methods are often required!
  • Things like flashcards and rote-memory drills will be avoided, with a focus instead on 'deep-down learning tools', which foster knowledge-retention by using the creative areas of the brain. A succinct example would be: 'trying to intensely memorize a wine list', versus 'learning classic producers by creating a wine list from scratch'.
Past M+ Event: The Seattle Premier of Somm: Into The Bottle, with Madeline Puckette of WineFolly.com
Past M+ Event: The Seattle Premier of Somm: Into The Bottle, with Madeline Puckette of WineFolly.com

Topics to be covered in the handbook:

- A mindset for the modern beverage professional: 

  • Humility: (anonymous) short stories of the best and worst personalities from the wine world.
  • Professionalism: notes on attire, attitude, candor and kindness.
  • Enthusiasm: thoughts on 'catching the bug', and getting ecstatic about wine.
  • Test Taking: removing fear and staying strong - from the workplace to the venue on exam day.

- Theory: 

  • Producers: the foundation of the wine-world itself, winemakers are at the heart and soul of every bottle! By learning about producers first, the rest of wine-theory falls into place with surprising ease. Effective study strategies for theory will reference and emphasize producers throughout.
  • Regions: starting with the sixteen essential countries for classic-wine, dive into each and discover the truly important aspects that set specific regions apart, and link others together.
  • Memory: learn Nick's 'Story-Palace' technique, based on the famed 'Memory Palace', to learn and retain unlimited points of raw wine-theory data along with relevant context. Add in 'spaced repetition', 'the Major System', and 'Visual Memory', and you'll be Rainman-level in no time. No flash-cards needed!!
  • How It's Made, with 1-Page Guides: getting down to the nitty-gritty of winemaking methods from around the world, including regional terms and classic examples. But wait, there's more! It will all be done with simple 1-Page explanations and diagrams.
  • Administration of a theory study-group: make leaps and bounds in your theory knowledge with the power of friendship. Tips on what to study, effective frequency, and how to administer any size group.
  • Wine Business Nuts & Bolts: get your mind right, on all the business terms from margin to pour cost and beyond. Learn about the back-end side of wine sales, and discover how wine really gets from grape to glass.
Past M+ Event: The Walla Walla Premier of Somm: Into The Bottle, at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre
Past M+ Event: The Walla Walla Premier of Somm: Into The Bottle, at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre

- Tasting: 

  • Grape Personalities: a unique visual-presentation of the 40 most-important grapes and wine styles, which can be considered 'classics'.
  • Deductive Method (aka 'blind tasting'): Nick's Reverse-Pyramid approach for accurate and thorough analysis of a wine, leading to conclusions on grape variety, climate, winemaking style and age.
  • Ultra-Grid: diving deep into deductive tasting using the 'ultra grid', which accounts for every important aspect of a wine, with cause and effect, from color-influence to structure to 'deliciousness', and more. Learn to work with the grid based on priorities, and eventually use it to describe a wine in four-minutes flat.
  • Administration of a tasting study-group: Notes on how to supercharge your tasting skills by working with friends. From tech tools used to effectively manage large groups to specific curricula for effective study, you will be able to have the best tasting group around!

- Service: 

  • Effective and gracious wine service, in the hospitality of guests and friends: how to converse about wine, so that everyone wins.
  • Service Situations: how to stay in the game, even when things go wrong.
  • Tools of the trade: a look a the essentials and extraneous items to have on hand for great service.
  • Still Wine, Champagne and Decanting service: in-depth videos, step-by-step, with multiple camera angles.
  • How to correctly (and safely) polish fine stemware.
  • How to correctly (and safely) carry a tray full of stemware.
Wine is a door to beautiful lands from around the world. All you need is a key!
Wine is a door to beautiful lands from around the world. All you need is a key!

Why Kickstarter, and why the $10,000 goal?

  • Naturally, this is a project that could be done on its own, outside of crowdfunding. The thing is, with a public project on the Kickstarter platform, there are stakes. An incredible motivator if ever there was one! Just like in studying for an upcoming exam, having a tangible timeline with public exposure is an excellent motivator.
  • Nick's vision is to share this project with as many people as possible. By keeping the eBook at just $20, the cost is designed to be relatively affordable (the same as a bottle of solid Riesling at the store or a round of drinks at the bar).
  • If 500 supporters back the project at $20, then the goal is met! That's just nine from each state in the US, plus another fifty worldwide. We can do it!
Decanting a sparkling Rosé? Let's try it!
Decanting a sparkling Rosé? Let's try it!

Where will the money go? 

  • Priority 1, Project and Prize Fulfillment: The base goal of $10k will cover costs of design, production, filming, shipping, and administration for the handbook and other Kickstarter prizes.
  • Priority 2, Company Operations: Between $10k and $50k, pledges will help with funding basic Medium Plus operations for the short-term.
  • Priority 3, Company Growth: Above $50k, pledges will assist with the growth of Medium Plus (a small Seattle company). From bringing on more staff and educators to developing additional educational programs, there is limitless potential!
Past Medium Plus Event: Champagne Feature and Elegant Bites at Eden Hill
Past Medium Plus Event: Champagne Feature and Elegant Bites at Eden Hill

Praise for the teaching work of Nick Davis and Medium Plus:

"I reached out to Nick to ask for help in tasting and theory after I didn't pass the certified exam. He put me on a curriculum that focused on the areas that I needed to work on and assigned me homework each week that emphasized my weaknesses and turned them into strengths. 

Nick has developed his own way of teaching that doesn't revolve around staring at a book and trying to memorize villages, regions, and terms, and it's incredibly helpful. He knows how to train your brain to really retain information and not just memorize for a test. He also has a great way of deductive tasting that expands on the CMS grids and breaks down how to get to a conclusion using clues that the wine is giving you.  

I highly recommend hiring Nick if you need help with anything in the beverage world, not just wine! He is full of knowledge and loves to help other people learn right along with him."  

-Madey Adams, wine sales representative and Bordeaux-buddy.

"My name is David Kim and I am the National Director of Restaurants at Nordstrom. I started a wine tasting group about 2 years ago to assist each group member improve their knowledge base and their ability to network within the industry. Nick joined us in the early stages of the group and has been an integral member from day one. Many people I know have vast knowledge of wines and spirits. But only a select few can convey their message without being pretentious or condescending. Nick is one of those select few that genuinely has an interest in each person's learning progression especially in one on one sessions. I highly recommend Nick to help enhance and elevate your organization's wine education efforts."

-David Kim, restaurant director and Chablis-comrade.

“Last year, Nick Davis and I spent hours together studying feverishly for the Advanced Sommelier exam. His awesome determination to learn the material was only bested by his insistence on investigating the process of learning itself. Passing the exam on his first attempt speaks to the effectiveness of his method, something I’ve seen him develop and evolve over the past year. If his success is any measure of the benefits his practice offers, this is a venture worth supporting. In addition, we both came to see tremendous value in the power of camaraderie and fraternity to promote our studies. Considering this a virtual extension of that connectedness gives everyone a chance to join in."

Exploring some great Champagne with Nick, at The 47 Wine Storage, in Seattle
Exploring some great Champagne with Nick, at The 47 Wine Storage, in Seattle

-Jason Winfield Smith, sommelier and study brother.

"I sought help from Nick at Medium Plus for improving my blind tasting abilities. Even though I had tasted a fair amount, I still found myself unsure of some of the wines in the glass I was presented. Nick broke the process of tasting down to core structural elements using a repeatable method that improved my tasting ability dramatically. 

He is able to explain the process clearly and quickly. Applying theory to what I was observing is in the glass was a great way to improve my wine knowledge and pass tests. If you are going to spend serious time to study for a test, I recommend working with Nick."

-Matt Beach, wine sales representative and friend.

Saber time - Thanks Champagne!
Saber time - Thanks Champagne!

-"Nick is great. He helped me pass certified, no flashcards required. Give him your money, and reap the benefits. Thanks Champagne!"  

Love, Jessica White, sommelier and bottle-poppin' pal.

Risks and challenges

This is the first Kickstarter project organized by Medium Plus.

Risks and Challenges:

-Accommodating Volume: Depending on how large the response is for this project, it may take some creativity to make sure the product is delivered consistently at scale. Medium Plus will need to hire some technical wizards, to help sort out the distribution of digital ebooks, vidoes, hard copies and other prizes.

-Accurate Information: A chief goal for Medium Plus is to deliver useful and accurate information, and to not perpetuate errors. A rigorous editing process will occur before any product delivery.

-Staying Focused: With an entire world of wine waiting to be unpacked, there will be a challenge in not taking on too much. To quote Antoine de Saint Exupéry, "Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away".

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    -MEDIUM PLUS GREETING CARD, MAILED ANYWHERE-

    A sincere thank you from Medium Plus, with a signed card, mailed the old fashioned way!

    This is the perfect pledge for someone who wants to show support, but isn't in the wine world. Thank you!

    Free shipping worldwide!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    -DIGITAL EBOOK WITH VIDEOS, AND GREETING CARD-

    The CORE product for this Kickstarter campaign, the eBook and videos will cover all of the tools and strategies listed in the project description.

    By the end of June 2016, the downloadable eBook will be delivered to backers directly via email, along with links to the videos.

    HONOR SYSTEM: We want this product to reach as many eager wine students as possible. If you plan on sharing the digital eBook and videos with others, please consider an increased pledge amount.

    Includes a signed thank you card, mailed anywhere in the world, with shipping included.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    -AUTHOR SIGNED HARD COPY, PLUS DIGITAL EBOOK, VIDEOS AND GREETING CARD-

    In addition to the digital materials, receive an elegant HARD COPY, to put the knowledge literally in your hands. Each hard copy will be signed by author Nick Davis!

    If you desire multiple hard copies, to give to your closest friends and allies, simply increase your pledge level for this specific reward in amounts of $40, and also send us a message to confirm, so that we're on the same page: kickstarter@mediumplus.com.

    By the end of June 2016, the downloadable eBook will be delivered to backers directly via email, along with links to the videos. The hard copy should be ready in the same time period.

    Includes a signed thank you card, eBook and videos.

    Shipping is included, anywhere in the world!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    -CUSTOM 90-MINUTE SKYPE SEMINAR (GREAT FOR GROUPS TOO)-

    Concentrated educational impact, delivered anywhere in the world. Choose from one of the below example presentations, or work with Nick to create something unique.

    Sample presentations:
    -"6 for 6": Discover the personality of any wine, using deductive wine tasting techniques optimized for accuracy and precision.

    -"Memory Magic": From subregions to producers, learn to retain a wealth of information with proven study methods.

    -"Immortal Technique": Dive into winemaking methods from vineyard bottling line, to reveal the origins of flavor as imparted by the vigneron.

    -"Tech Somm": In our modern era, the world of wine is available in moments. Gain access to the best tools and resources for sifting out the clutter, to focus on the data that counts.

    -"Custom Crush": Work with Nick to design a seminar tailored specifically to your interests.

    Your seminar can be scheduled at your convenience, and will be available through December 2016.

    For those in the Seattle or Puget Sound area, the seminar can be held in-person!

    This reward INCLUDES the digital eBook, videos, a signed hard copy and a thank you card, shipped anywhere in the world at no extra charge.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    -CUSTOM DESIGNED WINE COLLECTION-

    Looking to grow your wine collection, but don't know where or how to start? Work with Nick to discover the classic wines that suit your taste, from any region of the world.

    Although the wine itself is not included with this reward, Nick can assist with acquiring any style you prefer, including many rare producers.

    For those in the Puget Sound area, a complimentary year of secure wine storage for up to 100 bottles is included, located just south of Downtown Seattle. Humidity and temperature controlled!

    This service will be available to commence at your convenience, anytime through July 2016.

    This reward INCLUDES the digital eBook, videos, a signed hard copy and a thank you card, shipped anywhere in the world at no extra charge.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    -6-WEEKS OF PERSONAL COACHING-

    Work with Nick Davis of Medium Plus one-on-one, to gain confidence and deeper knowledge of wine, with a curriculum designed specifically for your needs.

    These personal sessions will be 90-minutes in duration, offered for a total of six weeks. Session will take place via Skype or another internet chat method, and those in the Seattle area are invited to meet in person as well.

    This reward INCLUDES the digital eBook, videos, a signed hard copy and a thank you card, shipped anywhere in the world at no extra charge.

    To accommodate your schedule, this reward will be available for EIGHT MONTHS from the end of the campaign.

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    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    -CUSTOM PARTY FOR YOUR GROUP-

    Nick Davis of Medium Plus is excited to meet you in-person, to offer his wine services for a SPECIAL EVENT. From a casual party with friends to a formal tasting/theory/service seminar, the options are endless! Depending on the size of event, Nick will enlist the help of his team at Medium Plus for extra support, at no extra charge to you.

    Please note, this reward does NOT include alcohol, per Kickstarter rules. We are happy to advise to a beverage selection, but cannot sell or offer alcohol directly.

    Nick and his staff are happy to travel for this reward. For locations outside the Seattle area, airfare and lodging accommodations are politely requested.

    Included with this reward is the digital eBook, videos, hard copy and thank you note, which all ship anywhere in the world at no extra charge.

    To accommodate your schedule, this reward will be available for EIGHT MONTHS from the end of the campaign. We will work with you to find a date that works for everyone involved.

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Funding period

- (31 days)