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Why WSET? Because pairing, pairing, pairing!

  • October 9, 2018
  • By Karen
Why WSET? Because pairing, pairing, pairing!


I recently took the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 class. This course can be taken over 4 evenings or in one day, and it’s designed to develop your inner sommelier. You learn about tasting, pairing, grape varietals, grape growing, winemaking, serving, and cellaring.


In other words, out of all the wine appreciation classes you could take, this one is the full meal deal. As you can imagine, it was one overwhelmingly info-packed day.


Am I glad I took WSET? I am. Mainly because, as a wine pairing class, you’re not going to find anything better.


I mainly took the course so that I could better pair food and wine at restaurants and when entertaining at home. And my expectation was definitely fulfilled. I feel more confident in my choices, and I enjoy pairing so much more.


To be honest, I never thought wine appreciation classes were the holy grail, because I tend to believe that what we want, we like. Isn’t taste subjective, after all? But my beliefs have been updated. After taking this wine pairing class, when I sip from my glass and nibble on my meal…holy, is there ever a difference!


For example, here are a few WSET takeaways that have made mealtimes so much more delicious:


  • Pair salty foods with less acidic wines
  • Pair chocolate cake with less acidic wines (it’s extremely important to know what to pair with chocolate cake, people)
  • To select a wine that’s more acidic (i.e., crisp), choose one that has been grown in a cooler climate (e.g., a Chardonnay from California versus a Chardonnay from Burgundy, France)
  • To select a more bitter, tannin-rich wine, choose one produced in a warmer climate like Spain


WSET also taught me to better appreciate different wines for their unique characteristics. For examples, Beaujolais and Riesling were my biggest surprises.  I realized that I actually really like these wines. Previously, I wasn’t a fan because they weren’t in the “big and bold red” department.


Am I going back to the next level of the WSET? I don’t know. But most likely I will.  There are wine appreciation classes, and then there’s WSET. It is truly an awesome learning experience.  But for now, there is no rush. I am enjoying (literally) digesting all my new-found knowledge. I find that when I put it into practice it sticks better. (And fortunately, “putting it into practice” happens to be pretty enjoyable.)


Any downsides to WSET?


Well, as a matter of fact, I tend to be a learner who wants to take a moment to let the information sink in. And the pace was quite brisk, so I did feel overwhelmed from time to time.


Plus, there was the test at the end, gauging exactly how much we’d learned at this wine pairing class. We had an hour to write our quiz and I took 55 minutes. It was sent to London to be graded; so official!


Did I pass? Yup. Now pass me the Beaujolais.





By Karen, October 9, 2018
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