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 1 student – Michele Hewlett.

WSET Level 1

Former WSET Level 1 Student – Michele Hewlett

When you signed up for the WSET Level 1 Award in Wine course what did you want to have happen?

I wanted to find out if all the different things that I smell and taste in wine were unique to me, or whether they were fundamental parts of the wine. So often at home or when with friends I say ‘I can taste or smell blackcurrants’ and everyone else can’t! The course confirmed that different wines have distinctive tastes and smells and that I’m not unique! Also, I wanted to know more about food and wine pairing. Finally, I wanted to see if I enjoyed the theory surrounding wine.

How did the course help to confirm that wines have distinctive tastes and smells?

The theory did that. Such as exploring about climate, grape types, how it is made, when the grapes are harvested and their sugar content. Before the course I was not aware of how much the climate affected the alcohol content. I’ve never been very interested in geography but found that part very fascinating; for example learning that two different countries on different sides of the world can make similar wine. I really like knowing the background to things and this course taught me just enough for one day and has given me the appetite for more knowledge.

Furthermore I wanted to know why I could smell and taste different things. Now I want to increase my knowledge of grape varieties, wine regions and food pairing. I don’t want to become a wine ‘snob’, I just want to understand what I am drinking! I’ve just opened a bottle of Soave for cooking purposes, moussaka, I had a taste using the tasting method, really citrusy and refreshing—very nice!

And when you wanted to know more about food and wine pairing, do you?

Yes, I do know more: for example how savoury foods make wine taste less sweet and more bitter; hot spicy foods increase the alcohol taste in wine; and sugar makes wine taste dryer; also, I learnt to have acidic wine with acidic food. I would like to explore all these in more detail, but even now I think about the combination of what I am eating and drinking. I drink fizz a lot, but now only as an aperitif. We went to local pub for dinner last week, we both had the steak beef burger, I chose a Rioja as it was a warm evening and I thought a lighter wine would be better than usual red, merlot. It was good.

And what did you enjoy most about the WSET Level 1 course?

I enjoyed so many things about this course—the relaxed atmosphere, lovely setting, small group, very knowledgeable tutor, something totally different from work, meeting new people. Although I have always been interested in wine doing the course made me realise how much I enjoy it. I came away from the day feeling energised! Thank you.

What would you say to someone thinking about studying the WSET level 1 course?

It is a good introduction to wine. It can be sufficient to do just the WSET Level 1 course where you gain good knowledge to help you enjoy wine more. Alternatively it could be a stepping stone. I think the course would be great for a corporate team building day.