Enjoy Discovering WineEach month Erica interviews a former student of Enjoy Discovering Wine. This month’s interview is with WSET Level 1 student – Andrew Cockburn.

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

I signed up for the course as I want to learn about wine from the ground up as it were! The connection between a region, the climate, the geographical influences, coupled together with the local culture and cuisine is fascinating. I expected the WSET Level 1 course to give me a taster, to see if I’m interested in carrying on this journey. Or whether it was just a silly idea! Level 1 was a great introduction and as a beginner I learned loads … but even those on the course with considerably more previous wine knowledge than me appeared to take away lots of new insights. I’ve signed up for the next course (WSET Level 2 Award in Wines & Spirits), although I do expect it to be a significant jump from Level 1.

Once you attended the WSET Level 1 course, what changed?

Having really enjoyed the WSET Level 1 course I do want to take my understanding to a deeper level. I feel like I’ve started on a journey of discovery and haven’t really left the platform yet! I’m just looking forward to a never ending journey of discovery. I’d like to deepen my understanding of the winemaking process (the science bit!). Then match this with discovering more about the link between the culture and cuisine of wine growing regions, when there is such a link.

WSET Level 1 was a general, high level introduction. This needs to be revisited again in my case for it all to fully sink in. This is especially true for the food and wine pairing. I sort of get it, but I need to explore this some more for me to fully grasp pairing choices. Does the food influence the taste and choice of the wine or vice versa! Since the course I’ve been paying much more attention to the grape variety and source of the wine I buy. I’ve also being attempting to match wine with food on the basis of what I learned on the course.

You have just received your result for the Level 1 course and you passed with an excellent score, how does that feel?

I’m pleased that I passed with a good score, especially as I work in IT and have absolutely zero prior knowledge. Other than having drunk, what I now know as, quite a lot of plonk. It shows that I was taken from zero knowledge to passing the WSET Level 1 exam all within a day with Enjoy Discovering Wine’s tuition. However I do kick myself for not getting a 100% but my choice of wine has changed.

Initially I now want to build on WSET Level 1 to understand the variety of grapes in more depth and to grasp food and wine pairing more fully. Eventually I’d like a more in depth and detailed understanding of wine. To understand the science behind producing it and the commercial aspects of the industry. I strive for quality over price now. I try to drink less but pick better quality wines. Although this philosophy doesn’t always survive past the first bottle! Also I now pay much more attention to the labels. So I’m looking at the grapes, region and tasting notes. I’m just sticking to France at the moment. Once I know and understand French wine to a reasonable level then I’ll move on to another region, probably Italy.

What’s the next step for you?

My next step is to learn more about the winemaking process in more detail. I want to understand what  has gone into making a typical generally available bottle of wine in the UK. This will again help me make more informed buying choices. Then I’d like to carry on my journey through my WSET courses and exams! I’m also starting to privately investigate natural and organic wines.

What would you say to someone that perhaps ‘drinks a lot of plonk’ thinking about signing up for a WSET Level 1 course?

Yes  … definitely … it enables an average consumer like myself make a more informed buying choice.


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