WSET II: “Plugging Away At It.”

I’m going to continue to write about my WSET studies as often as possible, in part to offer information and encouragement to others pursuing their certificate, and in part to drive myself with public declarations of how I’m doing. So, this week, by the numbers, I tasted 36 wines, took 11 practice tests, and averaged a score of 39/50, or 78%, an increase of almost 7% from last week.

One thing I’m learning from my tests is where I’m weak. I’m still woefully ignorant about the winemaking process, and I struggle mightily with wine regions, in particular old world regions outside of those few I’m personally familiar with. There are also many grapes with which I am unacquainted, and I know next to nothing about Madeira, which appears on almost every practice test, often repeatedly.

Today, at our study group, we tasted through a series of German reds and whites, a red from Duoro, a red and a sparkler from Napa, an Argentine Torrontes, and a Spanish Albarino. In all, it was a good ensemble, and I learned a lot both from the tasting and from the discussions that accompanied each wine. How much of that I’ll retain we have yet to see, but I provided my full attention and jotted notes here and there in my phone. I remain optimistic.

The image above was our attempt to capture a spectrum of white wine colors, which I think we did. To the far right, if you are the viewer, is the 1998 Riesling, which, due to an originally high sugar content, came off like a dessert wine. The straw-colored wine to the far left is the Albarino, I believe, though it could be the Torrontes. I had a bit too much fun by that point, as evidenced by our use of a chair as a background. Hey, it worked.

Studying wine remains fun for me, but I also feel pressure. I’m investing a lot of time into this, and it would be a real shame if I didn’t come away not only with a piece of paper and a pretty pin, but also a legitimate and thorough education. That, of course, is the goal. After 17 years of college and 29 years of formal schooling, it’s no longer the piece of paper I’m after, but the knowledge it represents. It’s proving to be a challenging, worthy, and delicious pursuit.

Cheers,

Mark

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