Wine School!


Last night was my first time back in an official classroom as a student since I graduated college in the ‘90s. Earlier this year, I signed up for the WSET class with no expectations. It’s mostly for fun and for some intellectual stimulation, but I’m keeping an open mind, and eager to see if this leads anywhere.

The six-week class I’m taking at the Capital Wine School is all about preparing you for the exam. There’s an official study guide and workbook and I have a feeling there will be quite a bit of memorization in my near future. It’s also very focused on how to taste using the specific WSET method. I already know I need help in this area, and I was reminded of that with the very first wine we tasted (why did I pick up vanilla notes in a wine that never saw any oak? oy!). 

I don’t want to use this space to rehash each class, but I think it would be fun to leave behind some tidbits I found noteworthy. That includes answers to random questions asked in class, or little factoids our instructor decides to share. So let’s get started:

  • Food is the culprit for most negative interactions with wine.
  • Italy is having one of its worst vintages since the 1950s because they’ve had too much rain this year. Their yields are about 15 percent less than where they should be. 
  • Stones in the soil can help with heat retention.
  • Don’t confuse acidity with finish. Wait for the fruit and other flavors of the wine to appear after the sides of your tongue stops twitching from the acid.
  • Just because you might taste the residual sugars in a wine, does not mean it’s a sweet wine.
  • That feeling of warmth down your throat and into your chest when you drink a glass of wine is the alcohol. More warmth, the higher the alcohol content.
  • Super Tuscan wines were created in the 1960s when winemakers didn’t want to adhere to the rules of the Italian DOC. Those winemakers soon discovered their wines were far superior, and continued to make them. It allowed them to charge more for their wine, even without the official protected of designation status.

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