Enjoy Discovering WineEach month Erica interviews a former student of Enjoy Discovering Wine. This month’s interview is with WSET Level 2 student –Helen Rice.

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

When I first contacted Enjoy Discovering Wine about doing the Level 2 course I was looking to further the knowledge I’d gained with Level 1. I also wanted to spend three days tasting a range of  wines. Then compare notes and ideas with others who share a passion for wine.

How was your experience on the course with Enjoy Discovering Wine?

On the course we tasted a whole range of wines– from budget end Pinot Grigio and Californian Zinfandel. Right through to a couple of Riojas and a really distinctive Barolo. Then we tried some sweet wines such as Sauternes, and a Sherry or two. It was very interesting to taste the difference between diverse wines from the same grape. Some, for example, had been aged for a different period of time. Whilst others had been produced using different methods. I think when you taste a number of wines back to back, it allows your nose and taste buds to start picking up on aromas and flavours much more easily.  I was really surprised how easily I was able to distinguish the different flavours by the end of the course. Even by the end of the second day the difference was noticeable.

The course also gives you a much broader view of how a particular wine can be. For example–it’s now much more difficult to say  “I don’t like *……….*” (insert a generic type of wine). Wines can vary enormously depending on the region they are produced in and production method used. Chardonnay being a prime example, so whilst you might not be a fan of an Australian high volume version, some French chardonnay which has a distinctively different style might just be your cup of tea (or glass of wine).

What did you think of the WSET Level 2 course structure?

Whilst the course was predominantly structured around the tasting, there was plenty of time to look at maps of where the various grapes were grown and the theory behind how physical factors such as the slope angle, climate, and soil types; and human factors such as the production method, impact the end product. So we were learning about the wines at the same time as sampling them. In this way, you get a more holistic perspective on wine in general.  Rather than just being a drink to slurp with a good meal, or a way to make an evening more sociable with friends, you start to think about all the processes that have contributed to the wine in the bottle on your table (and it becomes clear why more distinctive wines are more expensive!)

So the course gives you a broader view of wine and it becomes clear why more distinctive wines are more expensive, so what does a social evening with friends and wine look like now?

More or less the same as before … except that I’ve now gained confidence in selecting wines. I am more likely to deviate from my standard choice (NZ Sauvignon Blanc) and experiment with an alternative… like a Viognier or a Torrontès… or consider more the food that I’m serving and how the wine would blend in with my dinner menu.    I am also spending more time ogling the wine shelves in the supermarket and increasing my wine bill!

What would you say to somebody who has a personal interest in wine and is thinking about studying the WSET qualifications?

I’d say do it! It’s three days where you can be an unashamed wine geek, taste wines you’ve barely even heard of, talk about far flung places where wines are produced and meet like-minded people. Some of these are in the food and drink industry. Others are going through a career change with the aim of working with wine in the future. And others, like me, are just wine enthusiasts.

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