Wine Education

​I’m just going to put something out there… wine is confusing, right?

Corks and screwcaps, the seemingly elusive dry German wines, French wine labels and not to mention vintages – should I really avoid 2013 in Bordeaux?  Wine has many, many variables.  It’s why so many of us stick to what we know.  We find one we like and it goes onto the supermarket shopping list along with bread and tins of beans because it’s just too daunting, confusing and time consuming to look for something else.  Not to mention the monetary risk if we get it wrong.

What if you could just understand it a little bit more – what would that do for you?  Find new varieties you like?  Try new styles, regions, winemakers?  Pick a decent bottle off the wine list at dinner?  Choose a surprisingly great bottle of wine for under £10?  

Put simply, knowing a little more could really increase your enjoyment of wine.

Demand for wine education is on the rise – both for professionals and for interested wine enthusiasts.  The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) suggests, in its 2016 Market Overview report that 39 million people in the UK drink wine and that’s not surprising:  it’s food friendly, easy to share with friends and widely available.

The Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) have recently published their figures for the academic year ending 31st July 2017.  These figures show a 14% rise in candidates in the UK from the previous year. 

19,401 people last year learned more about wine in the UK. 

Some of those people will be working in the food and beverage industry and, as we all know, it’s always good when your waiter can offer you some further information or a recommendation about the wines on the wine list. Now what about those people that aren’t in the industry but who are interested in getting more out of their wine journey:  better quality, better value, wider variety of styles to drink, being able to read a wine list – where do those people come in?

Well, that’s precisely where I started.  I enjoyed my wine, had visited some vineyards and I wanted to know more.  I wanted to understand how some people could peruse the shelves in a store, read a label and then pick a good bottle at a price point they wanted.  How did they do that?  What a skill! 

WSET Level 1 and 2 can do that for you.  In a very short space of time (L1 is one day, L2 is three days) you can know more about wine, more about how to read a label, more about what grape varieties and wine styles are available.  And it’s not just for those in the industry: when taking my Level 2 course, there was probably a 50/50 split of those in the industry vs interested enthusiasts.  I may be in the wine industry now but back at the beginning of my journey, I was just someone who enjoyed my wine.

If wine is something you enjoy, take the time to learn more, you have nothing to lose – you really won’t regret it.  You can see more information about all of the courses on the WSET website.  You do not have to have Level 1 in order to sit your Level 2 exam either so, if you feel you already know the basics, you can start at Level 2 and take it from there like I did – who knows, you may end up getting a career change out of it!

You can read more about the rise in demand for wine education on the Harpers website.


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