Lorraine Hems

Lorraine Hems
Wine Instructor

Where did you train / how did you acquire your knowledge?

 I received my BS degree in Social Work from Nazareth College of Rochester, NY. I had consumed very few alcoholic drinks before accepting a job managing a liquor store before graduating. I really didn’t know anything about the products, but immediately began to ask a lot of questions, read a lot of publications and began tasting all different types of beverages. I got “bit by the bug” and decided to stay in this field. I also held jobs with two wholesalers and two additional retail stores before starting to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001.

I didn’t have a degree in wine or teaching when I started part-time at the college, but I had taught community classes. I decided to pursue certifications to have something to show people after working almost twenty years in the industry.

I passed the first level exam of the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2005 and became a Certified Sommelier in 2006.

I took the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Level 3 certification exam in 2006 and passed with Distinction. I am completing my Diploma with the WSET along with teaching their courses.

I became a Certified Specialist in Wine then a Certified Wine Educator, and the International Bordeaux Tutor Diploma in 2007 through the Society of Wine Educators. I passed their Certified Specialist of Spirits exam in 2008.

After three years, I completed the Certified Wine Judge program through the American Wine Society and became certified in 2010.

I continue to attend, volunteer and present at SWE and AWS conferences.

I received my Masters in Service Leadership and Innovation from RIT in 2012.

What wines interest you the most?

While I understand the basics of beer and spirits, and I enjoy consuming them, my passion involves everything about wine.

What is your interpretation of ”good” wine?

I’ve always firmly believed and promoted that it should come down to personal preference about what one likes to drink. No one should be given the power to negatively judge what someone else is drinking. Sure, beverages can be faulted, but “faulty” doesn’t include simply not liking that particular beverage. Wine snobs have told others through the decades that “sweet wines can’t be good quality” or “hybrids can’t make good wines”. If I personally like the wine in front of me and it contains no flaws, then I should be free to enjoy that wine without being told it isn’t a 'good' beverage!

What are three items that you would take to a desert island?

(If not industry related) I would take a tent, sparkling wine, and the telephone number for the closest pizza delivery!

Other Accreditations:

  •  Has worked in retail, wholesale, and wine education for over 25 years
  • Full-time instructor in the school of International Hospitality and Service Innovation at the Rochester Institute of Technology

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