Why Wine?…Wine Course – WSET

Why do a Wine Course?

Wine is one of my greatest passions.  It’s delicious, decadent and one of life’s simple pleasures.  It has the ability to bring people together, it has huge historical importance and to me it is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening.  Opening a good bottle of wine with friends is my idea of a perfect night in (or out).  It can make or break a meal depending on whether or not it enhances or clashes with the food and Charles Baudelaire summed it up best when he said ‘One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters; that’s our one imperative need. But what with? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk.’   Why Wine? WSET Wine Course Level 2 by Emma Eats & Explores

To that effect, last year Dan and I decided to enroll ourselves in Level 2 of the WSET Wine Course, along with our friends Matt and Jonas.  Before the course I’d always had an interest in wine but never knew much about it other than which wines I like.  I was interested in finding out more about the whole process, the different varieties and grapes and just gain a more in-depth knowledge of the subject.

What is the Wine Course about?

WSET stands for the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust and the wine course focuses on all aspects of wine and spirit making (from planting, to harvesting, to distilling and fermenting) and gives you an insight into why weather, geography, climate, soil conditions etc are so important in determining what a wine will taste like.  It also teaches you about all the different grape varieties and what you can expect from them.  This means when you read a wine list in the future you’ll have much more of an idea about what each wine should taste like.  It also provides you with all the knowledge you need to taste wine effectively.  You’ll learn to taste and what to look for, aromas, flavours, acidity, tannin levels etc and whether a wine is complex or has a long finish.  Ultimately it gives you all the building blocks that  you need to discover what it is that you love about wine!  One week is devoted to spirits, one to sparkling wines, one to sweet and fortified wines and 5 to various grape varieties with the exam on the ninth week.

There is a Level 1 Wine Course that we could have done but after speaking to other people, Level 1 is extremely basic and in order to do Level 2 you do not need any prior knowledge so we decided to skip the first one and head straight to the second course.  The course can be completed in a few different ways.  We chose the 8 weeks of tutoring on consecutive Thursday evenings (2hr sessions) followed by a multiple choice exam on the 9th Thursday.  If you can’t commit to 9 consecutive weeks then there is an option for 3 consecutive Saturdays I think, or even a straight forward 3-day course. (In retrospect, having done the class, I’m glad that we chose the option that we did).  The class was divided in half with the first hour spent on learning about the grape varieties and methods etc, and the second hour is devoted to tasting.  I think there would have been too much information and too many wines to taste in one go, had we done all-day courses, so I feel the evening classes were a much better option.  It’s not a cheap course, £375 for the 9 weeks but this includes tuition, text books, wine tasting glasses and of course all the amazing wines that you get to try each week.  It’s also a highly regarded qualification in the wine industry so it’s well worth doing if you want to make a career out of it.  The class that we took was held at Bermondsey St in London but there are classes all over the country and worldwide that you can attend.

What are the classes like?

In the first half of the class, most weeks we focused on one white grape and one red.  We learned about the regions that grow them, how the taste of the wine produced can differ with the climate they’re grown in, and what characteristics to expect from any wine made using that grape.   We learned about the entire process of wine-making from growing the grapes, through picking, fermentation, blending, bottling etc and I really enjoyed the tutoring and found the whole process very interesting.  There was so much I didn’t know, and it really filled in the gaps (caverns) in my knowledge.Why Wine? WSET Wine Course Level 2 by Emma Eats & Explores

The second half of the class was the tasting part.  I thought these were done brilliantly.  We were first taught how to taste and smell the wines and then every week we had six to taste.  I find it much easier to pick out specific characteristics when I can compare and contrast against other wines, rather than just tasting one on its own so this was a great way for me to learn.  They often picked three wines that were completely different but made with the same grape so you could see what other factors affect the flavours of the final wine.Why Wine? WSET Wine Course Level 2 by Emma Eats & Explores

What is the exam like?

At the end of the Wine Course there is a 50 question multiple choice exam and if you get more than 80% then you pass and receive your certificate.  I came away with a strong knowledge base – and a 96% in my exam (smug).  I would really recommend the course to anyone with an interest in wine as I feel it has really given me a good grounding in the basics.  Since then we have visited many vineyards all over the world, the Hunter & Yarra Valleys in Australia, many beautiful spots in the Tuscan Hills including Brunello tasting in Montalcino and even the Bolney Wine Estate in England.  Wine dictates some aspects of our holidays too!  We love trying local wines and this summer we’re heading to Bordeaux and road tripping down to Northern Spain visiting many vineyards along the way.  And of course nothing beats a glass of wine on the beach!

Having loved the Level 2 WSET Wine Course we’ve decided we’re going to be attempting Level 3 soon – Wish us luck!Why Wine? WSET Wine Course Level 2 by Emma Eats & Explores

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84 Comments Add yours

  1. Erica says:

    I’m not much of a drinker. But I live in California and find it fun to visit wineries and learn a little about the wines. Congrats on getting a 96% on your exam. You must really know your stuff!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      I’m so jealous – I’d love to have Sonoma & the Napa Valley on my doorstep – we’re definitely planning a trip there soon!

  2. Shannon says:

    Hi Emma! I loved reading this! I’m a huge fan of wine. My husband and I go wine tasting often and this might just be the ticket to up our game. I’m going to have to look into some around our area. Luckily we have a great spot with over 40 different wineries in one area. Just have to head north! (Northern Michigan)


    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      OOOh sounds great – I’ve never been wine tasting in America (but I’ve tried plenty of American Wines!) Will have to look out for some Michigan ones!

      1. Shannon says:

        OH MY GOSH! Anything from the Traverse Bay area (Northern Michigan) is A-MAZING!

  3. A wine course is really a thing I would love to do!
    Exploring and tasting the differences between the many varieties of wines would be so cool!
    I think in this way we can enjoy more drinking it!

  4. kage2015 says:

    I just learned more about wine reading your post than I ever knew.

  5. This is fascinating! My love of wine developed from going to winery in france few years ago 🙂 love to try course like this. Must be fascinating x

  6. What an incredible idea. I am so impressed….Wow onto Level 3!!! It seems like you learned so much. I would love to hear more about your Wine Holidays!!!!!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      Thanks Nicole – look out this Summer for some of our Wine Adventures!

  7. Annie Tee says:

    I just discovered some stuffs I didn’t know about wine from your post and I think a wine course will help one discover more about wine

  8. Carla Crudup says:

    Great article on wine courses! Informative and after reading your article I’m interested!

  9. morgan says:

    So fun! I’d love to take a course one of these days!

  10. bettybrico says:

    Wow. I have never been a wine person so I had no idea there was so much to know, or do, with wine. Very informative.

  11. Sirri says:

    I would love to do a wine course!

  12. This is definitely something I’d love to do! It hasn’t been until recently I’ve been trying a few different red wines and really appreciating the taste of them. There is such an art to wine and it’s definitely nice to know your stuff.

  13. eazynazy says:

    I don’t drink so i have never tasted wine before nor i’ll do in the future. But it was fun reading your post and gaining some knowledge

  14. Wow, this was really cool and so informative! I want to try out WSET now because I love wine! haha

  15. alisonrost says:

    I’ve never heard of a wine course before and I’m in love with the idea. We’re definitely wine fans at our house and it would be so much fun to learn more about it in this way. Thank-you for the idea .. I’m going to check around in our local area to see if I can find something similar!

  16. I don’t usually drink alcohol at all, but wine seems to have such a cult following that I just might look into taking a wine course one day. After all, I may as well learn from the experts!

  17. 2014ritchie says:

    A lot of vineyards have opened in CT. I think it fun to visit them and learn more about the process and different types. The course sounds like a great way to extend that learning.

  18. I have never thought of doing a wine course before, they sound great to do

  19. annalisanuttall says:

    I sadly can’t drink wine as it make me ill. But my parents told me that once they went to a wine tasting and got completely drunk – like they had to be carried out. Oh main I would have loved to been there. xx

  20. Delaine says:

    This is definitely something I would be interested in doing in my leisure time.

  21. Jazz says:

    I know so many people who would love this!

  22. I’d love to do a wine course, I love learning about wines! I’ve done a few wine tasting sessions.

  23. Rae says:

    While I haven’t done WSET (probably won’t), I think learning about wine has really helped me understand my likes and dislikes and given me the tools to know which wine pairs with what.

  24. natalielovesbeauty says:

    I am not much of a wine enthusiast. I know a lot of people who would enjoy this course though!

  25. Katrina Phelan | The Math Lovin' Momma says:

    That course sounds absolutely amazing! I’d love to take a class like that, but hubby doesn’t drink and I haven’t heard of anything like that near me. I’m sure there are courses everywhere, I’ll have to keep an eye out for them.

  26. Anosa says:

    I would love to experience this too! Never thought of a wine course before but now I’d love to learn more about it. Thanks for this post.

  27. Very great recap of the course. I’ve been curious about wine courses and this gives me some more to consider about signing up 🙂

  28. So many people drink wine everyday and still don’t know much about it. This sounds like an amazing class.

  29. I am not a huge wine fan but I know my parents have done a few wine tasting courses to learn more x

  30. Lindsey says:

    I love wine, nothing makes me happier than a nice cold glass of white, red or rose season dependent! I’ve thought about doing a course, but worried whilst tasting in class I’ll end up a tad drunk hahaha

  31. Danielle says:

    This sounds like so much fun! Although truth be told, I’m not overly picky about my wine. We usually go with the jugs… 😉

  32. Oh gosh, it’d be so nice to stand in front of the wine aisle in Trader Joes and KNOW the differences between each of the bottles. I’d love to take a wine course. At least to know the basics!

  33. I hardly ever drink but wine has always interested me. I’d love to learn more about everything conserning wines.

  34. Stephen says:

    This sounds really interesting and I know so very little wine other than white with white meat and red with darker meat, but even then people don’t always follow that rule.

  35. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s a lovely opportunity. Wine is an interesting subject and it’s always nice to learn more about it! I think it’s a good choice to join a wine course.

  36. colleen wool says:

    This is so interesting, my hubby makes his own wine and would love to take a wine course.

  37. Krysten says:

    These courses seem like something that I would really enjoy. I love learning about how alcohol is made and do a lot of tours of wineries and distilleries.

  38. diana says:

    wine tasting always seemed interesting to me, thanks for this brief post on wine,pictures are lovely,thanks and cheers

  39. lastchance3 says:

    I’m not a big wine drinker, so tastings are always hit or miss with me. But the first half of the wine course sounds pretty cool. I’d love to hear about the specific grapes, who grows them, why, etc. It seems so cool!

  40. What an interesting course, it would make a great present for a wine lover.

  41. Sounds like you had a great experience!

  42. How fun! I know next to nothing about wine, so I’m sure I’d get a lot out of the course.

  43. Oooo how fun!!!!! I just love wine so I would love to take a wine course!

  44. freespiritedsprygirl says:

    Great information and nice looking format!

  45. Emma, I would love to do an olive oil course. For a couple years now, I’ve considered cooking classic an essential part of any visit to a foreign country.

  46. featherflint says:

    This sounds SO interesting – I would absolutely love to be able to interpret wine menus more knowledgeably! My husband and I always do wine tastings everywhere we go, so I can definitely see us doing something like this someday!

  47. Leigh Anne says:

    I took a mini wine class with a lady once. I learned so much in that short amount of time. Although I do not drink it regularly, I do have a better understanding of it.

  48. Barbara says:

    The course sounds amazing. It’s always fun going to a tasting. I know someone who has a keen interest in wines and always shares interesting tidbits with me. About level 3? Go for it!

  49. that must be an exciting course. i wonder if there are wine courses in our country, if ever there is I am inspired to enroll in

  50. Jennifer L says:

    I’m just getting into appreciating wine so I definitely need a wine course. The course sounds so great in helping you really make the most of your wine.

  51. Congrats! 96% on an exam is a job done well, it’s nice to have a certificate. My favorite part of the class would be wine tasting, to be honest!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      That was my favourite part too! 🙂

  52. Athena says:

    I wish I enjoyed wine. There really is nothing about it that I like except a nice dessert bubbly wine. I don’t seem to have the palate for it.

  53. Kira C says:

    I’d be really interested in trying something like this as I don’t normally like wines so I’d love to see a variation to see what I might actually like!

  54. I don’t drink often but when I do it’s always a red wine. This sounds like a fun course. i didn’t even know you could do wine exams!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      me too – red is definitely my favourite – although I do drink too often! 🙂

  55. I really like red wine, and have been opening up more to whites. I had no idea that a wine course would involve tuition and text books…but I guess it makes sense. I’ve always wanted to know how to taste and smell different wines (and know what I’m talking about).

  56. I would love to take a wine course. My father used to have specialty wine delivered monthly, and brought it out for special occasions, but I was never that much into it, back then. Wished I payed more attention. Blessings!

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      Sounds amazing – I need one of those monthly wine deliveries!

  57. Leah LS says:

    I have never been a huge fan of wine but I like the idea of a course to help me get better at it or find ones I do enjoy x

  58. I have always thought these wine courses are very interesting. I sure would love to know more about wine and sample a bunch of them. Visiting vineyards and wineries would also prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A very interesting story to tell our grandchildren.

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      Visiting wineries is one of my favourite things to do too! We love to see a few every time we go somewhere on holiday!

  59. I would love to take a wine course! This sounds like so much fun. My hubby and I love wine.

  60. This will have been so nice for me but most wines are alcholic so i stay away from it.

  61. Nicole Anderson says:

    Well there is certainly a lot to learn and of course professionals in the wine industry never stop learning as part of what they do every day. Really impressive you managed to get 96%! Somehow you must really have a flair for this subject and you might not need that much luck in getting through stage 3. All the best.

  62. We love wine too, but have so much that we’d like to learn. These wine courses sound perfect for us. Thanks for introducing them.

  63. Sushmita Thakare Jain says:

    Wow a 96% that’s really impressive 😀
    I would like to go for this one 🙂

  64. I’m not a drinker but I heard so many good things about wine. Thanks for sharing dear!

  65. helenvella says:

    I love wine and I go to a course right now and I am loving it, learn so much. Thank you for this it was very interesting.

  66. Ashlee says:

    I love wine! A wine course would definitely be an interesting thing to try out!

  67. The course sounds interesting! I really love the tasting part. I would go for this one ???

  68. I did WSET level 1 Wine, level 2 Spirits, Level 2 Wine and Spirits all as full consecutive day courses. I haven’t signed up for level 3 yet because I’m a bit anxious for the blind tasting. Its a lot to study and taste before and during the course. I’ve been going to tastings a lot and reading up on different wine regions so I can remember it all.

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      I feel exactly the same. The blind tasting intimidates me – I’ve been trying to practice but not sure how good my palate is! Good luck if you decide to do it!

      1. I feel like I can’t postpone Level 3 any longer. If I fail the exam, there’s always a resit… BUT I really hope I don’t fail.

  69. I’m not much of a drinker but I will go for sparkling or flavour wine.

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