Enjoy Discovering Wine

Former WSET Level 2 & 3 student – James Watson

Each month, Erica interviews one of Enjoy Discovering Wine‘s former WSET student’s and the article is featured here. This month Erica has interviewed former WSET Level 2 and 3 Student – James Watson.

When you signed up for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits what did you want to have happen?

I’ve had a keen interest in wine for a long time and wanted to learn more, which is why I took the WSET level 2 course a couple of years ago. This course was great and gave me a fantastic foundation in the world of wines – I learnt an awful lot and tried many new wines. However, I was really keen to take things further, so when the opportunity to take the Level 3 course can along I jumped on it. I knew it would be a big commitment, but there’s nothing better than spending time learning and studying something that you enjoy. The two key things that I wanted to get from the course was to expand my knowledge of specific wines – what did I like, what didn’t I like, and to understand more about what was good and what wasn’t so good to drink. I can definitely say, those aims were met and surpassed by the Level 3 course.

I suppose on reflection I wasn’t really looking to expand the list of wines that I knew that I liked, I really wanted to understand what it was about those wines that lead me to like them, and what linked them all together. I really did learn that – be it grape, climate, production method, intended style, the food that you’re eating with it – having completed the course I feel that I understand wine, rather than just know it. I realise I still have a lot to learn, but I feel that I have already come a long way.

Having completed the course, I can confidently talk about wine. I feel that I could offer sound advice and recommendations to someone, I would know what wine would work with a meal, I understand the drivers behind the cost of a bottle of wine and , most importantly I know what to look for if I’m looking for a wine for myself. I’m really looking forward to making use of my broader knowledge and greater understanding.

I think the thing that I most enjoyed about the course was the breadth of content and the engaging way that Erica delivered it – I was very happy to have been given the opportunity to learn so much. I also think the class dynamic was great – I learnt a lot from the others on the course, from their experiences and opinions. I think the opportunity to meet and work with others was really invaluable, which is something that I would have missed out on if I have taken a distance learning course. It also goes without saying, I enjoyed tasting the wines.

I’ve always enjoyed drinking wine, but at home I only open one bottle at a time. Erica’s course offered a fantastic chance to compare and contrast wines – I feel that I can clearly describe the difference between a £10 bottle of wine and a £20 bottle now, before the course I would not have been able to do that. In some respects that wasn’t a great thing, since now I’m always leaning towards the £20 bottles rather than the £10 – who was it what said “Life’s too short to drink bad wine”?

If someone had an interest in wine and wanted to expand their knowledge and understanding, I would whole heartily recommend a WSET course to them. It’s not a small undertaking and you need to be prepared to put in the time, but for a keen armature like me, it was an entirely rewarding experience.

Update from James: March 2016

It is a year since your interview, how have things changed for you since attaining your WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits?

Since completing the WSET Level 3 course with Enjoy Discovering Wine, I have taken every opportunity that I have had to further expand my knowledge and experience of wine. I am far more adventurous than I ever have been and love to try new wines. I’m really broadening my tasting experience and am finding some really great, but inexpensive wines. I’m also finding that I can pair wines with food quite successfully – this is something that I felt was a bit of a dark art before the Level 3 course, but not only do I understand the theory, I can (usually) apply it effectively. This is something that I hope to develop further and have signed up to an Enjoy Discovering Wine Food & Wine pairing lunch later this year.

About 6 months ago, I spent an evening at The Black Bottle, Winchester. This is a somewhat quirky wine bar that uses dispensing machines to allow customers to buy small quantities of a broad variety of different wines. I had a great time there and would recommend it to anyone, however the part of the evening that was most memorable was the 20 minute conversation that I had with the owner about the wines that he had selected to make available that evening. I remember this conversation because I had just as much to say about the wines that were and were not available as he did – it really struck me than that I have managed to build up a very good working knowledge of wine and can hold my own with a professional.

So, what’s next for you James?

I am considering setting up a small ‘hobby’ business running wine tastings for groups of people, either in their home, at a venue, or as corporate entertainment. I would do this in my spare time, for the enjoyment of sharing what I have learnt with others, but in the long term, I would like to be able to make a living doing something like this. It really would be taking something that I enjoy and making a career out of it.

I have also been looking at opportunities to carry on studying with the WSET. I would love to move on to the Level 4 diploma course, however this is too much of a commitment to take on at the same time as my full time job. Perhaps this is something for the future.


Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone