Each month, Erica interviews one of Enjoy Discovering Wine‘s former WSET students and the article is featured here. This month Erica has interviewed former WSET Level 2 Award in Wines & Spirits Student – Harry Champion.
When you signed up for the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits what did you want to have happen?
I have always enjoyed wine and when I enrolled with Enjoy Discovering Wine for the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines, I wanted to turn my love of wine into knowledge. Throughout the programme, passion really was combined into learning with the tasting ethos of anything goes, like smelling green beans in a Sauvignon Blanc.
With wine tasting it is a case of recognition. Erica helped us to identify smells and flavours, so that we can recall them in the future. If I hadn’t been taught I would never have described a wine’s flavour of ‘buttery toast’ or the ‘smell of petrol’, a smell distinctive of Germanic Rieslings. Once smells are given a name and identified, it is then much easier to associate smells and flavours with a wine, and ultimately be able to determine grape variety, region and, therefore, style. I’m not quite there yet though.
Everyone can read a label with a grape variety on it, however, especially with French wines only the region is specified. Learning with the WSET teaches one to ‘look behind the label’. Studying the regional terminology has enabled me to pick up a bottle and, without opening it, have a sound idea of the style of that wine.
To have that knowledge at ones fingertips is very much ego boosting. There can be a lot of snobbery with wine but with sound knowledge one can explain to others, who perhaps have a lesser understanding, as to why one must know what side of the Loire a bottle comes from. Only last week I was at a restaurant with friends and felt very humbled to be given the responsibility of selecting the wine for the whole meal.
I feel that by having the knowledge of wine, it allows me to enjoy my wine more. I now really know and understand what it is I’m drinking, which adds to the experience of wine drinking, and I now appreciate when a wine is of exceptional quality.
I know that WSET Level 2 will really come into its own when it comes to my work placement, as studying hospitality I see myself going into either an establishment with a strong food and beverage focus, or solely the wine trade as a buyer. In the future I’d like to progress to do WSET Level 3 but for the time being I shall continue with my studies and carry on using my wine knowledge on a ‘practical’ daily basis.
And what would you say to something thinking about signing up for a WSET course?
Do it! Not only is the course insightful, it is also fun and rewarding. Even if it won’t directly help with a career path, like myself in hospitality, it will help in later life in things such as working lunches or social gatherings, where you can impress clients, bosses, friends, and family with your flawless outstanding wine knowledge. Money well spent.
Since completing the course, have you used your newfound skills?
I’ve been putting the course to good use. I was eating at a restaurant with my parents and ordered a glass of Pinot Noir, when it arrived I smelt and tasted it, and was adamant that it tasted more like a Valpolicella. I called the waitress over, and got her to bring the bottle over, turns out she poured the wrong wine, so we got a free bottle!
If you are interested in signing up for a course with Enjoy Discovering Wine, please email our Course Administrator.