Working hard but having fun


german-rieslings.jpgI’m working hard at my studying for the WSET Diploma but I’m also enjoying myself.

The hard work comes from having 600 hours of studying over a 2 year period. If you break that down, that’s around 6 hours per week so just like a full day. I’m fortunate in that I’m only working 3 days per week at present so I can fit the studying in. I feel for the people, especially those in the wine trade, who have full time jobs and then have to find the time to fit in the studying.

But it’s also fun. I’ve started the “big” unit which is light wines of the world and is over 300 hours just on its own. I’m studying Germany so to help, and to bring the words about the differing styles of Rieslings you get from the different regions (anbaugebiet) to life, I went out and bought myself a couple this morning at my local Waitrose.

Tasting these later is the fun bit most definitely. This section has also made me a whole lot less apprehensive about buying German wines. Their labelling is just so complex but is something I have had to get to grips with.

There are at least 150 recommended wines to taste just for this unit so I look at it as a tasting for every 2 hours of study - now that’s a motivator! Joking part, tasting is something we can all enjoy although I do find the trade sessions I go to quite hard where I am trying to take in 30 or so wines, learning from the specific characteristics and trying to identify the differences between them all.

A very important part of the Diploma is the writing of specific and detailed tasting notes. I find it impossible at large tastings given the time it takes although I have subscribed to Tasting Buddy which may help. Using this tool, you can write notes in either a free form way or the structured method which corresponds with the WSET’s systematic approach to tasting.

Tasting 150 wines for this unit is an absolute minimum, the reality being that I ought to be tasting around 4 to 5 wines per week. This is where I am at a disadvantage compared to those who attend the classes as much of their tuition consists of tastings. I’m doing this distance learning so I have to find other ways to taste so I don’t spend all the family housekeeping on wine. I handle this by attending trade tastings, most organisers being happy to have Diploma students come along. I’ve also started a small tasting group in my local area and, working as I do very part time for Oddbins , I get exposed to staff and customer tastings. I also help out at trade events. Hearing other’s opinions of the wine you are tasting is very useful and helps to develop my senses.

That’s enough for the this post as it’s time to get back the Oxford Companion to Wine to read up all about bereich, grosslage and einzellage and then taste the wines in the picture.

See - it’s not all hard work!

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