Get to know Joseph Hallam DipWSET
1. How did you get into the wine industry?
At first, it was a way for me to continue student life. I wasn’t ready to stop learning, so I was attracted to wine as a new subject and found a company that would train me. I studied languages and European studies so was looking for a job in an international industry. And I was happy to stop drinking from the bottom shelf!
2. How did WSET prepare you for a career in the wine industry?
My first job was in a wine shop and WSET was central to everything for me. I entered an industry in which I knew nothing and needed to learn quickly because I was training on the job, working with customers on a shop floor from day one. Shadowing my manager, studying on the train home, and then putting it into practice with customers helped build my confidence rapidly. After six months I was really comfortable with anyone who came through the door – even when I didn’t recognise a certain region or producer.
3. Do you have a favourite wine or grape variety?
I am happy to be poured sherry and sparkling all night, but I’ve recently become fixated with Xinomavro. I refuse to describe it as Greece’s “version of” anything because I think its profile is so distinctive.
4. Why do you think it’s important for people to learn more about wine?
To me, learning something new is about making connections. That’s brilliant in the wine industry because you can endlessly try wines based on knowing what you already like and why. I promise that you won’t run out of wines to discover.
5. What do you enjoy most about teaching at WSET School London?
Teaching is a relatively small part of what I do day-to-day so it’s great knowing I have this amazing group of colleagues who I can go to for advice and tactics on how to improve my own teaching.
6. What are your favourite topics to teach?
Explaining sparkling wine production is always fun and a great topic to challenge some preconceptions.
7. Do you have any advice for people wishing to enter the drinks industry?
The number of different roles in the industry surprised me and I only learned about those once I joined it. For example, I had no idea that my current job existed when I started in the industry nine years ago.
8. What are your top tip(s) for passing WSET exams?
Talk to someone else about what you’re studying. That might be a classmate or just an interested friend. If you can explain something in a way that makes sense to them (bonus: you get to do that over a glass of something good), your studies are going well!
9. In your opinion, what is the future of the drinks industry?
Drinking less but trying something new or a bit special when we do. Learning from people outside the industry and from people who don’t look like me.
10. What is your dream job?
Not sure I have one, but I would love to be outdoors more!
11. What is your proudest achievement?
I’m a relatively new dad so at the moment constantly proud (and entertained, and exhausted).