The WSET Diploma and fortifieds


Relief! I’ve passed the first of the exams for my WSET Diploma, this being the one on wine production.

I was concerned that I hadn’t read widely enough although I had put in enough hours, 80 compared to the WSET guidance of 60. There were some sections of the Oxford Companion especially on rootstocks and diseases I hadn’t taken in properly so that’s the learning point for my next topic.

The next exam in less than 2 months is on fortifieds, principally port, sherry and madeira although it also covers others such vin doux naturel and Rutherglen muscats. The guidance this time is for 30 hours of study. With the exam being 1 hour long during which I’ll be answering one question of my choice and tasting 3 blind fortifieds and writing up the tasting notes, the priority has to be getting in lots of tasting practice.

I have borrowed a couple of books on sherry and port which I’m reading on the train to London every day.

I’m travelling up to London to work at the International Wine Challenge. This will help me with my tasting as I’ll be exposed to lots of wines including fortifieds.

At the end of each day’s judging, staff are able to taste whatever has been judged that day. The picture at the shows just one of the madeiras I tasted yesterday, a wine I never would have bought. There are also many other more “run of the mill” fortifieds I’ve been trying but I’ll still have to go out and buy some for tasting practice at home.

With what I’m learning from the books and the tastings my knowledge of fortifieds is rapidly developing which is one the aims of the Diploma.

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