I finished the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines!

If you were wondering where have I been and why have things been so quiet lately: it’s been because I was fully committed to the cause of studying for this course.

There’s no other way around this: either you go full-on or you just can’t retain the information 😬

I actually had the exam last Saturday but I have spent the week decompressing.

I still don’t know if I have passed the exam or not—they take a few weeks to come back with the results. So who knows if I will have to go back and re-study everything! 😆🤪

It’s very liberating to just BE DONE with it, but it is also very strange to not be thinking of what lessons I should be studying at every single moment of the day, including while you’re sleeping—I had not dreamed about wine before, but I have had a lot of weird dreams about wines and grapes and production methods during the last months! It sure shows how intense it is.

In the meantime: was it worth it?

I think the biggest learning for me has been the tasting technique.

I have learned to blind taste really quickly. Because we did the previous level online, we didn’t quite know how to taste wines at the same level as my class mates which had had the chance to attend in-person classes (after lockdown 1, 2 and 3). When I saw them start reciting descriptors on the first day of the class, I felt like I did not know anything! I could at most find two or three things, and there they were pointing out cluster after cluster. Aaagh!

But now my technique has improved lots! I tasted so many wines I just have the steps etched in my brain so I don’t forget to assess any aspect. It’s almost automatic. I can have opinions quickly! The dream 😂

As a secondary effect, I feel like my sense of smell is heightened now, for better or worse (worse, when I’m walking in the streets, some days everything seems to STINK and it’s terrible). And even if I don’t try to consciously, my nose immediately tries to identify the aromas and smells on food and drinks now (even more so than before!).

Theory wise, I think I can “explain why” in most of the cases, which is the goal of the course! I have learned a lot about how grapes are grown, how wines are made and where, and why they cost what they cost.

I’d say I’m 90% less intimidated about looking at wine lists or shop shelves nowadays—the 10% is a recognition of the fact that there are so many regions making wines, my geographical memory is still terribad, and there’s no way I can remember everything. I won’t be able to tell you what every single wine is about but I’ll probably have a good idea in general, and I do understand what they mean when they write “crisp” or “gooseberry” etc in the labels. For everything else… ask the restaurant’s sommelier, or read the label in the bottle 😆

I’m also very intrigued to try all the wines I’ve read about that I haven’t tried yet, and try again the styles of wines that I sampled that I remember liking, and verify that I truly liked them. I was fascinated by the description of some of the most extreme cases such as the basket vines in Santorini or the very steep slopes in Mosel. I want to look at all those things—and maybe try the wines while we’re there! A Germany trip must happen…

So, in short, yes, I do feel more equipped, and also more intrigued. It’s a clear example of “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know, so you want to know more”.

No, I’m not going to sign up for the Diploma.

Or at least, not yet—let me figure out if I have to study this thing again!!!!

I have some more things and “tricks” to share about my experience, which I hope might be helpful for other prospective students, but I will leave that for another post.

To be continued…

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