Friday, February 11, 2011

WSET Systematic approach to tasting wine

For those who never heard of WSET, it's an official certification of Wine & Spirits Education Trust, widely recognized in the world as a credential of wine expertise, akin to a Sommelier certification minus the service portion (i.e how to properly pour Champagne). WSET has multiple levels, and the highest and hardest one, called Diploma, takes at least two years of study, with multiple day-long exams at the end of various portions of the curriculum. One of them is blind tasting that tests one's deductive reasoning as much as his/her palate. Securing a WSET Diploma qualifies one for a study for Master of Wine degree, which is the highest honor in all of wine profession, sort of a Ph.D. title, but far more exclusive and prestigious than that, since there are fewer than three hundred in the entire world. Being a master of wine gives one almost a Yoda-like status, a position that doesn't come without super-human talent and commitment.

On the way, even getting a WSET Diploma is an accomplishment not for the faint of heart. Just the tasting portion - Unit 3, as they call it, is daunting. You spend hours rigorously analyzing several wines in front of you, narrowing them down to a region and variety, all along pinpointing a myriad of qualities of each wine, using scientifically appropriate language. The way you describe those is even more important than correctly identifying the wine. It's a fascinating exercise of wine geekdom.

I am not really sure - does it add pleasure or take it away?

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