Each month you can read an interview with a WSET student to hear what it is like to study with Enjoy Discovering Wine. This month’s WSET interview is with Level 2 and Level 3 in Wines student, Karen Woods.

Karen Woods WSET student

Karen Woods WSET student

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

WSET student—learning in a group

I already knew a little about the WSET Level 2 syllabus through informal sessions at the excellent University of Southampton Wine Club. These whetted my appetite and left me wanting to know more. I stumbled across Erica’s company thanks to social media and her friendly and knowledgeable posts encouraged me to find out more about formal classes and go on to enrol. While I’d heard of study through distance learning, I really don’t think it works for wine education. Learning in a group is half the fun. My motivation was to learn more about the world’s wines with like-minded people in a friendly setting, through a combination of practical tasting and understanding more about the role of climate, terroir, grapes, traditions and techniques.

WSET student—cachet in the tasting room

Since I was a teenager visiting the Rhineland with my parents, a simple trip to a vineyard has always provided unique insights into a country and its culture. Right across the world and across the centuries, people have grown grapes and turned them into wine. Desert valleys, breezy mountain slopes and stony soils have all produced memorable vintages. And learning about wine has introduced me to traditions and heritage as well as climate and terroir. Perhaps, because I’m not in ‘the trade’ and studying for fun, I have appreciated these insights even more. And the skills and knowledge you gain through WSET qualifications, give you a certain cachet in the tasting room!

WSET student—plenty to discuss with winemakers

All winemakers like people who turn up at the cellar door eager to taste and keen to buy. But they adore talking about their varietals. Thanks to WSET, I now have plenty to discuss with them. I don’t know all the answers but I know some of the best questions to ask. Whether I’m wandering around historic Loire Valley caves, where stones were cut to build the famous Royal chateaux or a shiny modern New World winery, there’s always something to learn from enthusiastic winemakers. The WSET Level 3 approach started with a thorough grounding in the grapes, climate, geology and culture of the long-established wine growing areas in Europe. Then Erica invited us to compare and contrast these traditional styles with similar wines made in the best areas of the Americas, South Africa and Australia/New Zealand. Wine education suggests new destinations for memorable holidays and opportunities to meet like-minded oenophiles on home terroir.

WSET student—the examination

Friends laughed when I told them I was getting involved in wine education, you can imagine the jokes. And, yes, studying for the WSET exams was enjoyable but plenty of hard work is required too. Erica estimates you should easily double the suggested study time to feel confident in the exams. Level two is multiple choice, but plenty of tricky questions are included. Level three includes short form written answers and requires a tremendous breadth of knowledge.

WSET student—congenial company

What made it all so memorable was the amazing range of fellow students. Some were fellow enthusiasts but most were professionals in the hospitality business and needed the qualification. Some worked in vineyards, others fancied a complete career change. Our weekly sessions tasting and analysing dozens of wines were a highlight of that winter and I’m pleased Erica’s alumni event plans will allow me to continue to learn – and enjoy the odd glass – in congenial company.

For more student interviews click here

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