DI’s Lucy Britner embarks on a voyage of discovery

on 14 February, 2011

I’m not very good at geography. When I finished the WSET Advanced course in Wines & Spirits I vowed I wasn’t going to do the Diploma. The G word is such a large part of the course and you have to remember where a particular region is, what grows there, what the climate’s like and what the soil type is.......

Somehow, in the year between taking the advanced course and now, I have managed to forget the angst, the maps scribbled on notepaper and stuck to the wall, the waking up next to a dribble-stained textbook…

That is until I was climbing the stairs to day one of the diploma. I. AM. MAD.

Luckily, day one of the two-year part-time course was all about my favourite bit – tasting. We had three white wines and were told they were all the same grape, one was a high-volume brand, one was cool-climate and they may or may not be the same wine.

So we went to work and, with a combination of luck and judgement, I got them all right. We did the same with five reds in the afternoon and I felt quite happy about the general progress of the day. Then came the bombshell that the minimum required extra reading for the course is more than 600 hours. That’s 25 whole days. Sh*t.

A week before D Day, I was lucky enough to attend the WSET graduation ceremony at London’s Guildhall. A bit of a window into what’s possible, I thought.

Hugh Johnson presented a “record number” of diploma students with their certificates and new honorary president Jancis Robinson was welcomed to the fore for the next two years.

The course leader chirpily said that if we passed all of our units, Jancis would be presenting us with our diplomas in 2013.

Frankly, that seems so far away that I have an image of arriving in flying cars and being greeted by a hologram of WSET chief executive Ian Harris so he can be at all 400 education centres across the world at the same time. Time will tell.

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