Friday, 26 April 2013

WSET And Me: Freddy and The Wine Academy, York

As someone who isn’t particularly academic, has a terrible attention span and who dropped out of college, I thought I was the obvious person to give an opinion on qualifications...

I couldn’t wait to leave school as soon as I could and get into work; I was never bothered about going to university and any sort of structured learning was of no interest. Looking back, I was probably a total shit.

So when I started working in the wine industry and signed up to take my first Wine and Spirits Education Trust exam, I had no idea what to expect and although I already had a very keen interest in wine, the thought of all the note taking didn't excite me too much.

As Karen is demonstrating, wine experts
sit on the floor before they start drinking.
That way you can't fall over.
Obviously if you are working in the drinks industry it is a good idea to have some recognised qualifications to back you up and even if you have a great knowledge of wine already, it is a good idea to have a piece of paper that says so.

Quite frankly, I had a great time whilst doing my wine and spirits qualifications. Having an interest in the first place is vital in order to do well but I think the most important thing, with the level 1, 2 and 3 courses is who you choose as a teacher.

To say I got lucky on this would be a huge understatement. I was fortunate enough to have chosen Karen Hardwick of The Wine Academy to do my level 2 and level 3 courses with. Karen was probably the most engaging teacher I have ever had, her passion is evident and her knowledge is vast. Karen was crowned ‘2011 International Wine Educator of The Year’ by the WSET. The best in the world. No biggie, whatever... (Bloody hell!)

Laura has been taught this technique
very well.
Due to Karen now holding a position with PLB Group Ltd, the wine academy is run by Laura Young, with Karen doing boss type things - I imagine this involves her wearing pin-stripe suits and smoking big cigars whilst pacing and dictating to someone on a typewriter. Or maybe not.
The courses are still taught to an incredibly high standard by Laura and she has maintained the wine academy’s incredibly impressive exam pass rate.

The thing that makes the WSET exams different from the sort of qualifications done at college/university is the fact that, due to the various levels of courses, even if you don’t work in the industry but simply have an interest in learning about what this juicy stuff that gets you trollied is, you can take a course and thoroughly enjoy it. Taking the exam at the end is completely up to you.
Either way, I think the WSET courses are well worth doing.

There is no denying that having a great understanding of wine and spirits but without the certificate to back it up is a hell of a lot better than the other way round but having both is ideal. So for the sake of a few quid, it’s well worth signing up. You might even enjoy it as much as I did.

Have you done wine and spirits courses? What was your experience like? Let us know by commenting below or on our twitter and facebook pages.

Freddy Bulmer

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