Each month, Erica interviews one of Enjoy Discovering Wine‘s former student’s and the article is featured here. This month Erica has interviewed Tony Dashwood who attended a WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits.
When you signed up for the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits with Enjoy Discovering Wine what did you want to have happen?
I have always enjoyed wine but, since my daughter bought me a wine tasting experience for my birthday a couple of years ago, that has developed into a passion and I wished to learn more in a structured and more formal way. I had no real preconceptions of what I wanted to happen, only that I wished to further my knowledge with a vague idea of a new career if and when I retire from my business.
How did you find the course?
I found the WSET Level 2 sessions stimulating and enjoyable. I had originally intended doing the online course but changed my mind and did the three-consecutive-day course instead, and, on reflection, I’m really glad I did. Being a concentrated course rather focused the mind and there was no choice but to put in some work in the evenings which, I am sure, paid dividends. I feel very confident talking about wine now, and there is some danger that I am fast becoming a wine bore!
And the exam?
I hadn’t studied for an exam of any sort for over 35 years so the stimulating part was engaging the brain cell and trying to remember everything. The enjoyable part was obviously sampling so many different wines over a short period, though, to be honest, I found the whole course enjoyable.
How has the course changed the wines you drink?
As an avid wine buyer I get to try many different wines but, fairly obviously, only open a bottle or so most days. The great thing about trying so many different wines on the course was tasting one after the other giving the opportunity to compare and learn about different styles and winemaking techniques. It is obviously much easier to compare and contrast when you have six different wines in front of you.
Traditionally I have tended to enjoy full bodied, tannic red wines but, largely because of the course, I find myself buying and appreciating many more white wines, both dry and sweet. And long may it continue. In the summer I tend to go for bone dry whites, I know there is a current trend for Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and I certainly enjoy a glass every now and then but my preference is still for French Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. I’ve also been something of an ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), apart from Chablis and Champagne, but I am trying and enjoying far more now. Similarly I used to be a bit sniffy about Riesling and now realise what a joyous wine I have been missing.
Last summer my wife and I watched a terrific performance of Romeo and Juliet acted out in a country pub garden, it was great fun and the actors carried on regardless of the generator cutting out for half an hour and a couple of horrendous downpours. My lasting memory will be huddled together beneath a golf umbrella enjoying a sticky toffee pudding and a bottle of Sauternes while watching a drenched Juliet being wooed by a soggy Romeo with the only lighting provided by a cars headlights.
What would you say to anyone considering signing up for WSET Level 2?
I thoroughly enjoyed studying for the WSET Level 2 course and would recommend that anyone thinking about it to just take the plunge. What have you got to lose?