[You guys, I don’t mean to make a big thing of it or anything, but this is my 100th post. !!! Does this mean I get a giant slab cake like they do for tv shows? #milestone]
I think the universe might have been listening to my last WSET post – a few hours after it went out into the world I got an email from the college where I took the course to say that my results were in and to expect them in the mail within the next week. FINALLY!
It’s been a staggering 12 weeks since I sat my WSET 3 exam and I still have not received my results in the mail. I’ve been waiting all this time, both for my results and also so I could share them with you. And here we are, another week and no mail for Meg. To pass the time while I wait I made you a little photo essay.
Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last 12 weeks, in GIF form:
I’m now past the halfway point in my journey through WSET level 3. I’ve begun studying for the exam (50 multiple choice questions, 4 short answer questions and 2 blind tastings – one white and one red) but am still waiting for my confidence to show. I had a similar problem with the last class I took – it wasn’t until the last few weeks of class that I finally started feeling like ‘hey, I think I can do this!’. Hopefully that feeling comes to my WSET studies soon. Better late than never, I suppose.
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In typical Meg fashion, I’ve enrolled in yet another wine course. It started last week and I wanted to share with you what it’s about and how it’s shaping up.
What is it?
WSET level 3 is advanced level learning from the Wine Spirit and Education Trust. WSET is a snooty-seeming wine educational organization based out of England. This course will offer the same knowledge but, contrary to Sommelier training, there is no service component. This is the thing that drew me to WSET over Sommelier training – I have no desire to work in a restaurant or serve wine. I just want to know all the wine-things so I can write here about them!
The world keeps spinning, the seasons keep changing, and while there hasn’t been much activity here of late, my own personal wine adventures continue.
A few weeks ago I wrote a 50 multiple choice question exam that was the culmination of four months of learning about wine. For 16 thoroughly enjoyable weeks I systematically learned about wine and spirits. To my delight we learned (and tasted!) our way through Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Syrah, Grenache and a whole mess of other whites and reds. We also got comfy with sweet, sparkling, and dessert wines (Sherry is amazing, and you will probably hear all about it in a future post), and had one class each on white spirits (vodka, gin, etc.) and brown spirits (the whiskies, mostly). Delicious and exhausting, looking back on it.
After freaking out over my seeming lack of ability to retain anything about things like the varietals specific to Italy or Vins du Naturels, I hunkered down with some charts and index cards because I decided I would be damned if I wasn’t going to pass this test with flying colours!
My aim was to pass with distinction – 85% or higher. But let me tell you – it is really difficult to get 85% or higher on a 50-question test, each question was worth 2%! If I got any more than seven questions wrong that dream would go out the window. Well, I found out last week that while I did pass, it wasn’t with distinction. On the plus side, it was with merit (80-85%) – I’ll take it!
Needless to say my brain is now full of new wine knowledge. And yet, I still feel like a novice when it comes to wine! Oh well, you know what to do to remedy that… *pops cork*
Family Birthdays = Wine Tastings
My brother Nick’s birthday was in April and he requested a wine tasting as part of his celebrations. Of course we, his loving family, were happy to oblige.
We tasted six reds and six different varietals. I’m sad to report that I only correctly identified two of the six wines – it’s clear I still have some work to do. However, it was still a great time and we were treated to six really delicious wines from my stepdad’s cellar.
Wine tasting is a lot of work, guys…
Alas, I only correctly guessed two out of six wines.
Wine siblings! (note that this isn’t the brother whose birthday we were celebrating, that one is less enthused about photo-taking)
Aaaaaaaaaand then my stepdad spoiled us all even further by opening this wine. Holy crap, this wine is old!
Adventures in Cataloguing
I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to catalogue the wines I drink in Vivino. My plan is simple – every time I taste a new wine I log it in the app along with some brief tasting notes. I don’t usually re-log the same wine, so the wines in my profile are usually ones I’ve never had before. I’ve also been focusing on wines I have in my day-to-day explorations – taking time out at dinners or parties is a bit more onerous that I’m interested in, and I know I have ample opportunity to log wines independent of social time.
To date I’ve logged 82 wines and am ranked 188 in Canada. Pretty cool! If you like you can follow me there.
Wine Course Plans
I’ve always been a bit of a nerd for formalized education, and my WSET Level 2 course was so enjoyable that even before the course ended I knew I wanted to keep learning about wine in this way. I also made a couple friends from that class and together we’ve decided to go on to the Level 3 course in January. In the meantime I’m going to fill in some personal gaps by taking a different wine course through a local college. Both my wine buddies have taken this one and recommend it before doing WSET Level 3 since the jump from Level 2 is quite big. To be honest I have no problem with this; more classes and tastings – hurt me! Now that spring feels here to stay I’m looking forward to the warmer weather, which of course includes more whites, more rosés and fun with sangria.
As part of my own personal ongoing wine education I enrolled myself in a wine course: the level 2 wine and spirits course created by the Wine Spirit and Education Trust, or WSET.
WEST is a British-based wine education organization and unlike Sommelier training there’s no service component with WSET. As much as I love wine I don’t plan on working the floor of a restaurant any time soon, so I was interested and excited to forgo that aspect of training and take a WSET course as opposed to a Somm course.
Bordeaux, France, aka Gorgeoustown. (image from SuperCar-RoadTrip.fr on Flickr – click through for more info)
I recently had dinner and caught up with my friend Cat. I first met Cat during my first year of university where we were both fresh-faced and over-eager campus student leaders.
The last time we saw each other was last November when I was visiting New York City. We met up and wandered around the Union Square market, toured Eataly (where Cat bought a big and slightly scary-looking octopus) and where Cat showed me her favourite wine shop – Appellation Wine & Spirits. They were having a tasting, she said, and added that the staff there were so friendly and their stock so interesting that this shop had become a regular ritual for her. Turns out she was correct on all counts. I was sad to leave that wonderful place but ultimately both me and my bank account were happy it isn’t my local wine shop.
Us, pretty much. And by that I mean we’re both Meryl.
In case you couldn’t tell, along with being a good friend, Cat is a fellow wino. We had a great time last November talking about and enjoying wine and it was then that she first told me about her dream to one day become a winemaker.
Fast forward to last week, when we got together. We spent the evening catching each other up on our lives and our wine journeys. I told her about this blog and some of the plans I’m mulling over and she told me about the soul searching she did while walking the Camino trail. Always a doer, walking the trail led her to realize that learning to be a winemaker was a much more pressing and insistent goal than she originally thought. So, she left her corporate job in NYC to begin this new adventure, and will shortly be moving to none other than Bordeaux to begin a combined MSc/MBA in the wine industry. And, wouldn’t you know it, Cat has started a wine blog to share this new chapter.Talk about exciting!
Needless to say I’m impressed and very excited for her. Cat has always inspired and motivated me and this new adventure is no different.
It’s nice to have a wine buddy, someone who is learning like I am and who I can share my hair-brained and novice questions and comments with (What the heck is the deal with appellations?? Does this taste like school chalk to you? Yes, this tastes like a Merlot, but that’s all I’ve got!).
This will be Cat and I in our old age. Ok fine, it’s us now.
Catching up with Cat has also left me thinking more about my own wine-related ambitions, and the personal journey I’d like to take. I find myself renewed when it comes to writing and learning about wine and pushing myself to always taste with intention. For the past few months I’ve be mulling over the decision to enroll in more structured courses. Would they be too easy? Too difficult? To what end would I take them, or would it be purely self-indulgence? But then again, wine is a wonderful thing, and who couldn’t use a little self-indulgence every so often?
Well, I’ve decided that next January I’m going to take a WSET course and see where that takes me. Sometimes you have to jump and do something without knowing what use it’ll be later.
I have, of course, already begun looking up flights to France, because who wouldn’t want to visit their wino friend in wino Mecca?