Its been a crazy few weeks so the blog has been on the quiet front. Well i have a good excuse !
Im not sure what gene i have but once i work in an industry, i always get the urge to study it in depth and get a relevant qualification. I was interested in business after finishing school so i headed off to do a commerce degree in university. Marketing really caught my attention during that so after finishing that i studied for a marketing degree while working full time.
So i suppose it was no surprise when i entered the world of wine a few years ago that i would follow my usual path. I made some phone calls to the WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust) and spoke with some good people in the Irish wine trade and this seemed the way to go. So over the following couple of years, i studied the Intermediate and Advanced levels and sat their exams.
I took some time out from study as i was in the process of setting up Wine Alliance with my good friend, Frank O Brien, who now lives in Perth, Australia with his lovely family. (chat to you during the week as normal dude) As the first year passed, i felt there was unfinished business on the study front (as if i didnt have enough on my plate running a wine business under the pressure of a struggling economy !) and encouraged by a lot of good people, i signed up to do the WSET Dip. A two year course consisting of exams in still wines, fortifieds, sparkling and spirits, the global wine structure, a case study exam (the convergence of the new world and old world in my case), a course work assignment (a written paper to be submitted on wine packaging) and an exam on viticulture and vinification. In short, a lot of study and tasting !
So last month i sat the last exam of the Dip. I had completed the other 6 modules and was faced with the biggie, Unit 3. Still Wines of the World. 2 hours of blind tasting 12 wines and then a 3 hour theory paper. The minimum recommended study time in preperation for the exam is 300 hours but i did a lot more. The exam was very, very intense, dare i say the most intense one i have ever done in all my years of doing exams. I was shattered after it. My writing arm is still numb i swear ! A french man sitting in front of me in the exam, turned to me once we had finished and all he said was “why do we do this to ourselves ?” And then he walked out of the exam centre looking rather dazed. I looked the same way no doubt.
So why did I do this ? I set out to bring my wine knowledge to a higher level and irrespective of the result, i feel i have achieved this. The exam was really tough so i will have to wait and see in terms of the result. Fingers crossed. It could go either way. But it has been a great journey of learning and it has increased not only my wine knowledge, but also my love of learning about wine and im looking forward to reading more and more to build on the base i have. I dont remember who said it but whoever said “the more i learn about wine, the more i realise how little I know and how much more there is to know” was spot on. It would be great if i could get through the exams first time but the ever changing and endlessly fascinating world of wine is there to be further explored either way. I know Ive only just scratched the surface.