Sam Povey DipWSET, Wine Educator

Sam Povey WSET School London Wine Educator

Sam Povey DipWSET
Wine Educator

Sam is a wine educator from Aberdeen, Scotland.

He first discovered his interest in wine at university and pursued it by travelling to Georgia and his local wine shop.

Before joining the industry, he was an economics tutor but fell into wine when he took a job behind the bar at an urban winery. He then moved into wine and food retail in north London: managing wine lists, hosting tastings and training staff.

Today, he teaches the WSET Levels 1-2 Awards in Wines and hosts events at WSET School London.

Get to know Sam Povey

1. How did you get into the wine industry?

I followed my curiosity by working part-time at a wine bar after finishing university. A little later, while helping a family harvesting grapes in Georgia, I decided that this was the industry for me and, returning to London, made wine my career.

2. Why did you decide to study the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines?

The more that you learn about wine, the more that you realise there is to learn. Completing the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines left me with a whole new set of unanswered questions and studying for the Diploma seemed like the best way to answer them.

3. Do you have a favourite wine or grape variety?

I wouldn’t say I had a favourite wine for the same reason that I don’t have a favourite band or a best friend, because what I’m in the mood for varies each day. That being said, I’m fascinated by Sherry, old school Rioja, tricky to pronounce Greek grapes and the under-loved wines of the Roussillon.

4. Why do you think it’s important for people to learn more about wine?

So that they can learn what’s right for them. Tasting different wines helps people identify what it is they love about their favourite wine and learning how wine is made allows them to understand why it tastes the way that it does. That gives a wine drinker the tools they need to explore the world of wine and discover new grapes, countries and regions.

5. What do you enjoy most about teaching at WSET School London?

Meeting students from all walks of life. Like me, many students begin learning about wine as a hobby. Others are considering a career change while some are already hard at work in the wine industry. Regardless, they all bring a unique perspective to the classroom and the best wines to taste with them are those that divide the room and spark debate.

6. What are your favourite topics to teach?

We give students practice blind tasting during the Level 2 Award in Wines course. Watching groups of students tasting an unknown wine and then debating what it could be is rewarding as an educator. Even though some people get it wrong, everyone finishes that session with a bit more confidence than before.

7. Do you have any advice for people wishing to enter the drinks industry?

Don’t wait. Get involved by finding a job in a shop or bar, even if it is just part time. WSET qualifications are very useful but they aren’t pre-requisite for joining the industry. Working and studying are complements and you’ll get more out of both if you do them side-by-side.

8. Do you have any top tip(s) for passing WSET exams?

Practice, practice, practice. Whatever Level you are studying, complete as many exam-style questions as you can find. Make your own with your classmates and compare answers. Complete them in timed conditions and practice writing them out by hand. This is the most effective way of identifying gaps in your knowledge, perfecting your exam technique, and making sure you feel confident and comfortable on the day of the exam.

9. In your opinion, what is the future of the wine industry?

The industry will continue to refuse to get rid of glass bottles, the single largest contribution to wine’s carbon footprint. Despite the need to cut down on the energy used to make and ship glass, fresh and fruity wine that does not need to be aged will still be packaged in weighty, cumbersome bottles so that resemble fine wine that needs a glass container to age. That is, unless wine drinkers learn to love the BIB...

10. What is your dream job?

To be a Venenciador, which is the person in a Sherry bodega whose job is to remove samples of wine from each cask so that the cellar master can taste them. In addition to the cool title, you learn how to pour wine from a small cup raised into glasses held about a meter below which sounds like a neat party trick.

11. What is your proudest achievement?

Designing a wine list from the ground up. I once helped to open a new wine shop and was given the job of selecting the entire wine list from fizz to fortified and everything in between. As a wine nerd, it was a treat to peruse the selection of dozens of importers, taste their top wines and pick my favourites. I hope that some of the wines I choose helped become part of someone’s memorable evening!

A taste of his teaching style

The best wines to taste with students are those that divide the room and spark debate.