We have asked WSET students about their decision to take our courses and their experiences of studying with WSET. In this Q&A we meet Renee Main, who completed her Level 2 Award in Wines in New York .
How did you first find out about WSET?
When I started out in the wine industry, I noticed a number of acronyms appended to people’s names on their business cards, such as CSW*, MS†, and WSET. I realized that the people I looked up to most were among those who had these certifications, So, naturally, I knew that I wanted to learn more about wine and broaden my palate.
Which qualification did you take and what made you sign-up for the course?
After I got my CSW (it was mandatory at the company I was working for at the time) I wanted to deepen my knowledge, so I signed up for the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines. I understood that the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines was somewhat equivalent to the CSW and so I decided to push myself further and take the Level 2 Award in Wines.
Would you recommend a WSET course to your friends, family, or co-workers?
Absolutely! In the wine industry, wine certifications are a must. Today, I am in the tech industry and I still tell my co-workers who love wine to go for it! You learn so much that it makes acquiring and drinking wine much more fun!
What did you find most challenging about the course?
At first, it was challenging in the tasting practice to not settle on a wine right away but use WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting Wines to make a more informed decision. Closer to the exam it was the retention of all the info I needed for the test.
What did you find most exciting or interesting about the course?
As you study all the regions at once you see themes emerge and this makes you better at understanding wine overall. For instance, elevation can be used in warm climates to provide a more hospitable environment for grapevines.
Pro tip: In warmer climates, altitude can provide some relief from the heat. For every 100 metres (328 feet) you climb above sea level, the temperature drops approximately 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.08 degrees Fahrenheit). This is very important in regions such as Argentina’s Mendoza, where vineyards can be found at over well over 1,000 metres (3281 feet) above sea level. The cooling influence of the Andes mountains slows down the ripening process and helps to retain all-important freshness in the grapes.
How do you use your WSET qualification today? Do you think that taking a WSET course has helped you professionally?
I use my certifications to signal a baseline of my knowledge, which was helpful when I sold wine and is helpful as a wine educator.
How has taking a WSET course impacted your confidence around wine?
A ton! The Level 2 Award in Wines provides a foundation that boosts confidence because you know the key facts. When you approach a new wine, you understand something about the category right away and can use knowledge about similar categories, regions, and vintages to create an informed opinion.
Will you be taking any more WSET courses?
Yes, I want to keep learning, for me that would mean enrolling in the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines.
If you could only drink one wine, for the rest of your life what would it be?
Champagne- easiest wine question to answer for me! :)
If you’re interested in building your wine knowledge, find out more about WSET’s wine qualifications. With four progressive levels of study, you’re bound to find the one that’s right for you.
*CSW: Certified Specialist of Wine. A certification from the Society of Wine Educators
†MS: Master Sommelier. A certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers