Tomorrow I will sit my WSET Advanced Exam. This will be the culmination of 15 weeks of lectures, tasting of 125+ wins in class (and plenty more outside of class), reading and rereading a serious text book, and loads of studying of flash-cards. The test consists of a multiple choice section, a short answer/essay portion and a blind wine tasting portion. I’m slightly intimidated by the material, and confused by the diversity and complexity of it all. I’m about as prepared as I’ll be for the exam tomorrow night, and I can’t help but think about the value of all of it.
I can say that the WSET program offers a fairly comprehensive view of the wine world. It’s clear that the perspective of the course is from a British outlook. Bordeaux and Port are the most detailed sections. Some of it is just absurd; wines of the UK are given more prominence than those of Oregon – something that just doesn’t sit right with me. And the text book can be pretty poorly written at times; I’ve found numerous typos, several omissions and poor cross-referencing. What made the course most worthwhile though, was having the text and course material explained through practical tastings with an experienced instructor at hand to guide us though it all. For me, the value of any wine education is in comparing my limited experience with someone who can put what’s in the glass into context and perspective. This in turn makes the regulations, the climates, and the production methods more more sense.
I’ll be glad when its over though, and hopefully I’ll have time to reflect on how this course has changed my thinking on wine, and whether its changed my experience of it too.