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 2 Student – Catriona Webber.
When you signed up for the WSET Level 2 in Wines and Spirits what did you want to have happen?
I was keen to sign up for Level 2 as I really just initially wanted to develop my wine knowledge further, after taking Level 1. My enthusiasm for wine had continued after the first course so I was keen to learn more about grape varieties and have more detailed knowledge about the regions. However, as a consequence of taking the course, I am now also keen to begin looking into a career in the industry and turn my hobby into my job!
I am really pleased with the greater knowledge and understanding I learnt on the course. It’s great to now have much more confidence in reading wine lists when eating out with friends and family, being able to order wines I never would have known about before and also knowing so much more about regions to be able to buy with confidence both online and in shops. I’ve even found myself chatting to strangers in shops helping them to choose the right wines!
I particularly remember eating out a few weeks ago at a very fancy Seafood Restaurant and my friends passed me the wine list as always (making jokes about me being a wine snob!) and in the past I would have chosen the tried and tested safe option of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. However, I saw a Chilean one on the list and knowing what the characteristics of a Sauvignon Blanc from Central Valley would be, thanks to the course, I was more than confident in ordering this; knowing it would go well with our food and more importantly go down well with my friends. I also enjoyed sharing my knowledge with my friends and introducing them to a wine they wouldn’t have had the confidence to order! I have really enjoyed learning much more about what to look for on a label when buying wine, knowing much more about grape variety and quality, particularly for regions and villages within France and being able to make both recommendations to friends on different wines to try and also knowing what I want to buy – it’s opened up a much wider world of wines to me to try and knowing what to look for and what I would enjoy. I am looking forward to my next trip to France this weekend where I want to ‘test’ my know-how when buying lots of lovely wine!
One week later…
I had a fantastic trip to France and rather than feeling overwhelmed with choice, felt much more confident in knowing what I was looking at! I personally really enjoyed spending time in the ‘tasting’ area at the ‘Wine Warehouse’ and yet again found my palate has really developed after the course and some wines weren’t to my liking at all. Most importantly I was delighted to find a really delicious bottle of called Appassimento- Ottenuto da Uve Passite which is similar to Amarone, along with treating myself to some Saint-Emilion Grand Cru and Crozes-Hermitage, all of which ranged from £5-10 per bottle; half what I’d pay in England. I also enjoyed helping my friend chose some bottles of Bordeaux and my sister and I found Champagne for £7 a bottle! My housemate also let me chose some wines for him and just gave me his budget so hopefully he’ll enjoy the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc I selected, to show him that Marlborough isn’t the only place that can produce this wine to a high quality. I came away having really enjoyed taking my time to read labels, tasting and enjoy making educated choices but also delighted that for the first time I really felt confident in understanding French labels particularly and knowing I’ve bought wine that I will really enjoy.
The WSET course has made a difference to what I buy and drink. Not only have I found I’m more discerning in what I buy but also am trying lots more wines when making choices off wine lists when eating out. My wine ‘collection’ has grown somewhat with more variety and I feel far more confident in what I’ve chosen, knowing I’ll enjoy what I’ve bought rather than often feeling quite baffled, overwhelmed and disappointed when I’ve made a poor choice from being ignorant. I’m also being asked for lots of advice from friends and I like being able to introduce them to different wines and giving them suggestions to try something new. I’m also looking forward to going to more tasting events and visiting some more vineyards this summer, knowing I’ll understand a lot more of what’s being offered along with hosting my own ‘basic’ tasting party at home for 10 of my friends so they also can try wine that is new to them and appreciate how fun wine is!
I would really recommend to anyone to study a WSET course as they’re really detailed with a great deal of study support and material. I’ve found both courses really informative, well-structured and the quality of both the teaching and exam to be really good. You will learn a great deal and the courses can really support either a passion for wine and/or a career in the industry. The courses are very good value for money, very well regarded and can only serve to enhance existing knowledge.