When you signed up for the WSET Level 3 course what did you want to have happen?
I signed up for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines basically because I wanted to broaden and deepen my knowledge about wine. I took my Sommelier diploma some years ago, in Italy, and this has given me a good background knowledge, especially about Italian wines, but I was not completely satisfied. The jargon taught in the course was too pompous for me and the teaching material too focused on Italian wines. I wanted to have a wider but also more pragmatic understanding of the field. I also wanted to become able to talk about wine in English and to describe it in a way shared by professionals from all over the world. For all these reasons, I thought the WSET approach could be very useful for people like me, working in the wine business and willing to work in an international context in the future. My expectations were high and I am happy to say now that this course, thanks to Erica’s professionalism and passion, went beyond those expectations, enabling me to learn a lot while having fun with other people interested in wine.
WSET Level 3—extremely useful in a globalised market of wine
The course covered all the main topics related to the wine business, from the natural factors affecting the vines, to the winemaking processes and techniques, from wine tasting, to the main winemaking regions throughout the world. What I did appreciate is that both the Old World and the New World have been treated as crucial for the wine business, and covered with the same consistent approach, so that I could evaluate wines and producers within their context and appellation, but also compare them with others coming from a different region or even continent. This helped me open up my perspective and I find it extremely useful in a globalised market of wine.
WSET Level 3—understand other people’s descriptions when we taste together
I still have a lot of work to do… Nevertheless, I think the course has given me a valuable starting point, because I have got not only a standardised and useful jargon I can use anywhere, but most of all a comprehensive method. Thanks to this method I can organise my perceptions when I approach a glass of wine; also the content I learn about the winemaking processes used to produce that wine and the words I need to describe it to myself and to other people. Moreover, this exercise helps me understand other people’s descriptions when we taste some wine together. That is fun and rewarding, because when you share a common language with other people, you can share not just words, but emotions.
WSET Level 3—whether you are a professional or simply a wine enthusiast, wine always acts as a “social catalyst”
For me, tasting wine is always fun, whether a fine wine or a faulty one, whether with friends or with my customers or colleagues. It is a sort of “game”, with different settings: it can consist of trying to deduce as much information as possible in a blind tasting; or it can be trying to pair wine with food accordingly to some rules but most of all with the personal taste of a customer, and many others. What all these settings have in common is the thrill of guessing and imagining, the pleasure of sharing your impressions–a flavour, a sensation I can hardly define, some experiences from the past that wine reminds me. Eventually, this game ends up in something that connect people. From my experience, whether you are a professional or simply a wine enthusiast, wine always acts as a “social catalyst”.
WSET Level 3—a never-ending learning process that you can keep practicing with new wines, new contexts and new people after the course
Wine tasting in the course is something crucial. Much of the time consists of tasting together with the teacher to absorb the WSET systematic approach to tasting wine, in order to calibrate our perceptions by reaching some common standards. This is as hard as rewarding. Of course, this does not mean you abdicate to your subjectivity, that would be simply impossible. I would rather say you learn to sharpen your perception, integrating the point of view of your teacher – and of your classmates – with yours. It is like when you learn dancing or playing an instrument, by copying the movements of the teacher – or someone expert – dancing or playing in front of you. Slowly, you learn to recognise some patterns, some vague sounds become notes, some clusters of notes become melodies that you memorise and can recall and link to specific tracks, or styles or even authors. It is a never-ending learning process that you can keep practicing with new wines, new contexts and new people after the course, accordingly to your will.
I think WSET offers a very complete package in terms of courses, from the ones for the very beginner to those for people already with some knowledge in wine. What I do like is that all of these courses are delivered with the same professionalism and accuracy, yet in an informal environment, in which you feel free to express yourself and grow with other people. What would I say to someone who is thinking about studying WSET wine courses? I would definitely say they are making the right choice!
Enrico Marcolungo, WineMe, Verona Level 3 student 2017