Most of you know that I am currently taking this course at the International Wine Center in NYC, and some of you are even in class with me. I thought it would be a good idea to let people know how exciting, interesting, informative, and challenging learning about wine actually is! Saturday night I was DJing a wedding, and one of the guests came up to me and said she was in one of the wine tasting classes I taught 2 years ago, before I even started my formal education with the WSET… I realized that was where I really began my formal education. I really enjoyed teaching that class, it was much less formal than what I am going through now, but the information I learned by teaching has really helped me get to where I am now.
Teaching is by far the best way to learn. I have noticed that almost every teacher in our Advanced Certificate class as well as the Diploma Class has either prepared for and passed their Master of Wine Certification or is currently in the process of studying for it. They have a passion for what they are talking about, and they want to learn more about it. I think that is an important quality to have if you are going to teach about a subject. However, there is an art to teaching, and you can be the most knowledgeable person on a specific subject (i.e. German Riesling or the Regions of Italy), but if you don’t have a good method of conveying that knowledge to your students, it could be confusing, misunderstood, or even ignored.
Besides the information you have to learn, the wine tasting aspect of this course can be quite confusing, while still being lots of fun. I am learning to describe different aromas, flavors, and colors that I never even knew before, like what really is a Gooseberry? I just know that Sauvignon Blanc often smells like one! I am noticing subtle aromatic hints if a wine is higher in alcohol that I never understood before. There are so many intricate details that go into the grape growing (viticulture) and wine making (vinification) process that contribute to the characteristics of the the wine… it’s not just fermented grape juice, and understanding what goes into it gives you a true appreciation for quality wine of all levels!
The biggest piece of advice I can give to people taking the Diploma Class, or any other class, is to truly understand the material you are being asked to understand. You have the Study Guide, know it inside and out. Do the practice questions. Know and understand them inside and out. Take notes, make flash cards, etc. Do whatever it takes to teach yourself. We all have our own methods of studying, and all learn in different ways, but if you rely on another person to teach you, you may have trouble when it comes to passing the exam. Conversely, if you teach yourself the material, no matter how you do it, it will stick with you for the exam, and long after.
Study hard, play hard, and drink often! Cheers!