Diving into the Diploma
A couple weeks ago I opened a surprising, to me, email. You see it was congratulating me on passing my WSET Level 3 Award for Wine with Merit. Don’t get me wrong I was very excited to not only pass but get by with Merit. I had taken the Level 3 at the Wine Academy of Las Vegas back at the beginning of June. After spending a few months studying on my own, we ventured to Vegas soon after school let out to spend two days at a custom crush facility cramming for the exam and attuning our palette to that of our instructor. Then we spent 30 minutes doing the tasting followed by 15 minutes of a break and then two hours of theory.
As someone who doesn’t work in the wine industry, the tasting was a little intimidating. In our class of 10 people, I was only one of two who’s living didn’t come from being around and tasting wine. During the break between the tasting as the others discussed what they thought/knew the wines were I got a sinking feeling I had totally missed the white wine. Most agreed it was a Riesling and some of the more experienced industry folks felt certain it was from the Clare Valley of Australia. While you don’t have to identify the varietal or the region in the grid for the WSET, I knew I had missed some major components of Riesling in my descriptors. There wasn’t as much agreement about the red with many getting the same gaminess I had gotten on the palette. All this to say I was less than confident that I would pull enough points to pass the tasting as we went into the theory portion.
The theory portion of Level 3 consists of 50 multiple choice questions and 4 (really 20 or so) short answer questions. When you are waiting to open your book during the instructions a lot of hope goes towards getting questions that are on topics you are more comfortable with in the short answer portion. Fortunately that was the case for me as I scanned the 4 questions, each with 4 or 5 subparts. I spent the full two hours answering multiple choice questions and writing the short answers. When I left after almost three hours of testing, I told my wife I’d be disappointed if I didn’t pass the theory and surprised if I passed the tasting. Therefore, when I got the email I was very happy to see the results.
So what’s next? Well as someone who likes a challenge and likes to learn I have decided to embark on the WSET Diploma program, something just over 10,000 people have graduated from globally. Six modules to be completed over the next 18 to 36 months done mostly online through the Napa Valley Wine Academy starts tomorrow. D1 covers wine production and I’ll be doing independent studying, they suggest 120 hours, plus attending 7 two hour Zoom sessions with winemakers and experts in preparation. I’ll be sharing my learning here as I go along.
Here’s to hoping I continue to enjoy the learning and maybe continue to surprise myself with favorable results.