Enjoy Discovering Wine

Former WSET Level 1 Student – Lisa Ayre

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 – Lisa Ayre

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

I have always been interested in unusual wines and where they are grown so I wanted to take this a bit further and expand my knowledge with the first step on a WSET course. Also with a view to potentially using this knowledge gained in a new business venture. I found the knowledge I have gathered from the WSET course invaluable, I am so much more confident in my choice at dinner with wine menus and particularly the information regarding matching food and wines, this was surprising at times on the day, and I still like scanning my notes on what different flavours can do to our palate and subsequently our enjoyment of wine.

With regard to matching food and wine, I was pleasantly surprised at how very much the right wine can absolutely change the taste of some foods. It was a great way to learn on the WSET day course, eating slivers of cheese, umami, salt, and other sweet and hot flavours… and then taking in turns to sample the fresh white wines, strong reds, and dessert wine etc… It has made me more adventurous when ordering dessert and cheeseboards, not always going for traditional Port (which I love incidentally), but mixing in some wonderful whites with the soft cheeses, and dessert wines too.

The WSET information is laid out in the handout in such a manner to make it really easy to learn more about all the basics on wine, starting with regions and grape variety. Also with the course being quite informal you are encouraged to interact with other delegates and indeed with the Tutor (Erica Dent AIWS), to make it easy and fun to expand your knowledge of wine.

Attending and passing the WSET course has given me the passion and confidence I needed to venture into the wine business!! I am currently obtaining my personal license and setting up relationships with private clients and local businesses after visiting many English vineyards, to provide top quality English wines, specializing in biodynamic and low sulphite fine wines. This is “Vini Vici “…which means ‘I wined, I conquered’…

I also intend to complete my WSET Level 2 in 2015. I am going to be busy doing something I love! WSET Level 2 will be a way for me to further my expertise and knowledge of wine, and who knows if all goes well, maybe continue my studies even further in 2016!

Update from Lisa – February 2016:

It is six months since your interview, how have things changed for you since attaining your WSET Level 1 Award in Wines?

Since taking my WSET exam in 2014 my life has changed dramatically. It has given me the foundations of knowledge, and confidence to set up my own wine business. Vini Vici has evolved from my passion for locally sourced produce., so we specialise only in English Wines.

I have spent the last 14 months setting up the business, procuring only the best wines from our countryside in Kent, West Sussex and Hampshire. Building great relationships with the vineyard owners and winemakers. This is a niche market here in South East Essex as currently an untapped area with the majority of restaurants and bars, this I am on a mission to change!! The website is for private clients and retail customers, and I manage Trade accounts too.

I am proud to say I have my foot in the door of a handful of prestigious and Michelin starred restaurants, and they have been very impressed with the exceptional quality of my portfolio of wines. On the corporate side of things, I have been enjoying hosting Wine Events that have proved successful and very popular. Good exposure for English wine alongside all the positive media recently. I am also being approached regularly to do wine tastings for private clients and local wine bars and social clubs

So, all good! I love my job, and I’m happy to be in this exciting, evolving business.