Enjoy Discovering WineEach month, Erica interviews one of Enjoy Discovering Wine‘s former students and the article is featured here. This month Erica has interviewed former WSET Level 2 student – Paul Bowler.

When you joined the WSET Level 2 in Wine and Spirits what did you want to happen?

As a lover of good food and drink I’ve long been interested in knowing more about wine but never found the right opportunity to take what little knowledge I had to the next level.

Having recently started a new business in the drinks industry this desire to explore the wider world of wine and spirits finally became more of a necessity than a simple aspiration and, after helping my wife to study for her own WSET Level 2, discovered she had signed me up for the course as a surprise Christmas present. What a wonderful present it was too!

To drink, I love nothing better than starting a meal with a well-chilled (quality) gin and tonic mixed in a large copa glass with plenty of ice and a wedge of citrus. Being the distiller behind Twisted Nose gin this is my spirit of choice but I’m loving trying out some of the more unusual craft gins from across Europe and the USA. Sherry and Port also have a prominent space in my drinks cabinet, although it’s not something I’d go shouting around – I’m waiting with anticipation for the day when drinking sherry becomes cool!

I’m quite traditional in my food and drink pairing­—cider with pork (my first job out of university was with Merrydown cider­—remember them?), real ale with pie and mash, crisp white wines with fish and robust reds, such as Rioja, Malbec or Barolo, with red meat. My personal experience of where traditional food and wine pairing is now, is seeing a huge increase in the range of cuisines readily available to the consumer over the last 20 years along with a greater general understanding of food and drink through the proliferation of lifestyle programs on television. Although the traditional pairings offer a solid rule-of-thumb that still stands today, there is now more of an opportunity to experiment with new food and drink combinations that would have been unthinkable (or simply unavailable) before. There are even websites that suggest weird and wonderful food and drinks combinations through scientific analysis of their aromas, textures and tastes. Heston Blumenthal has a lot to answer for.

Since completing the course I’m more aware of what to look for in a meal so that I can select a wine or spirit, traditional or unusual, that will bring out the best of the food (or visa-versa). I’ve also experienced first-hand the transformation of a good meal to a great one using the principles taught on the course.

My awareness of and confidence with wines has increased significantly since completing the course and I can at last have meaningful conversations with sommeliers in restaurants and wine shop proprietress without feeling embarrassed or out of my depth. The downside is that it has fuelled a desire to dip even further into the world of wine and spirits and I’ve now signed up for the Level 3 course being held later in the year.

What would you say to someone thinking of studying the WSET level 2 course?

I would, of course, encourage them to sign up, after all it’s not often you get the chance to taste and discuss so many styles and varieties of wines with a like-minded group of people under expert tuition.

The exam (the presence of which which may put some people off) is short and fair, and as long as you study the course material and learn the important wine regions, should pose no problem.

The payoff is the opening up of a whole new sensory world of wine and spirits with the knowledge and confidence to understand what you’re buying and drinking. You’ll never look at a bottle of wine in the same way again!


If you are interested in signing up for a course with Enjoy Discovering Wine, please email our Course Administrator.