Hooray! My WSET 2 course is done and dusted. I’m excited because there’s a qualification at the end of it (I hope!) but a little sad that the learning is over – I was just getting into the swing of things.
Learning as an adult is a funny thing. School taught me to have an aversion to learning (well, my school did, anyway) and I just couldn’t wait until I could stop learning and start living. I know that I didn’t make the most of the rich knowledge available to me at university and learning was just something I had to do on the side of having a great time. It was probably teaching that turned me back onto learning, by realising that people needed a hook to learn effectively; that there had to be an angle that interested them.
As an adult, you find your own hooks because nothing is mandatory. I sought to learn about wine; I wanted to. But old habits die hard, and though there was ample time between enrolling on the course and starting it, did I study prior to week one? Not exactly.
My advice IS to, no matter how busy life is or if the full-time job gets in the way. There’s a lot to take in and even though you think you have three weeks to study, really, if you start on week one, there are only two weeks to study and revise for the exam. And it’s not really the kind of knowledge you can just cram in; it’s knowledge that needs to sink in over a period of time.
It is great that you can get the course done in three days over three consecutive weeks, but I think potentially the longer course of evening sessions might have been better for me to allow the learning to build more organically. I don’t know how people do it all in a weekend, unless they have a lot of base knowledge first! There’s a huge amount of information in every session, so I found it most effective to type up all my notes into a comprehensive essay structure (imaginatively titled Wine Essay on my laptop) – this way made me feel like the learning was really consolidated. (I only started doing this in the week between sessions two and three! I highly recommend going through the textbook prior to the course and doing this first, so that you can build on what you already know with the tasting sessions.)
The course culminates with a multiple choice exam of 50 questions. Exams have never really worried me – you either know it or you don’t and there’s nothing you can do about it by that point. However, it surprised me at how neurotic I was about it – I didn’t think I’d be there for the full hour and a half answering the questions, but I was – and so was everyone else! You’d think you’d be more relaxed as an adult, but it was the opposite because you know what you are capable of, and you feel it more acutely if you let yourself down.
It takes up to four weeks to get the results, so I’ll just have to sit tight until then. I feel confident that I’ll pass (but it feels strange writing that JUST IN CASE I DON’T), but it would be lovely to get a merit. I just don’t think I studied hard and long enough for the distinction, but I now know for Level 3 (yes, I’m already planning to go for that) what it really requires – and that’s constant study and learning over a period of FOREVER. I have continued with my Wine Essay and I think that will be what life is now, if I want to become a wine genius. I also now have a membership for GuildSomm too, which is a fantastic online information source for my Wine Essay and general wine geekery. It’s a voyage, friends, so let’s see what the next leg brings.
I did my WSET Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits at the WSET School London on Bermondsey Street. The course costs £450 at the time of writing and includes all wines (and some of them are phenomenal) and six ISO glasses which are yours to keep. I found the teacher (Lauren Denyer) to be excellent – she was knowledgeable, approachable and entertaining – and, although there are other venues that run the course, I highly recommend this one as it’s in the fantastic area of Bermondsey and it’s a real wine school, which is just awesome.
UPDATE: I got a Distinction!!!!