Get to know Shane Jones DipWSET
1. How did you get into the drinks industry?
I started my career in more traditional professions, but absolutely hated it. The one thing that always brought me joy was food and wine, so I decided to go to a wine course during my lunch breaks. This showed me what a formal wine education could be like and led me to WSET. I started working in a wine shop while I was doing my WSET Level 3 Award in Wines, and then progressed from retail to events and then education.
2. How did the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines prepare you for a career in the industry?
It gave me command of a subject. That – alongside my ability to read a room, and get students to participate and interact – gave me a solid foundation for becoming an educator.
3. Why do you think it’s important for people to learn more about wine and sake?
I think wine and sake education can be just as powerful as being able to read. It opens up a new world for exploration and gives you confidence. It helps you understand why you’re enjoying a particular drink and allows you to become more adventurous.
4. What is your favourite wine and why?
I couldn’t pick just one! I am forever a champion of German wines though as they’re a bit of an underdog. For example, the country produces premium examples of Pinot Noir or Spätburgunder that are much more affordable than their counterparts from France. I’m always keeping my eye on what’s going on in the market in Germany.
5. What do you enjoy most about teaching at WSET School London?
It’s my alma mater, and I hoped that one day I would return as an educator. I love the fact that I walk into a room where I used to be on the other side of the experience and I know that what I am doing will help shape the journey of many others.
6. Do you have any advice for people wishing to enter the drinks industry?
It’s such a dynamic place! It needs people from all over the world, from different backgrounds. I always tell students to talk to their peers in the classroom, because you’ll be surprised by how much you have in common and how much you can learn from each other through your differences.
7. What are your top tip(s) for passing WSET exams?
Do more theory study, particularly for levels 3-4. Students are always very quick to form tasting groups, but not many form a group for theory practice.
8. In your opinion, what is the future of the wine industry?
I’d like to see a broad spectrum of nationalities, people of colour, sexual orientation, and ages. I’ve recently met a lot of students who are starting their journey much later, having been unsatisfied with other careers. I think it will become less formal and be a place where you can have a really fulfilling career.
9. What is your dream job?
In many ways I am doing it now. I’ve always wanted to teach! Every time I walk out of that classroom, first of all, I feel like I haven’t been at work, and second of all, I feel happy. I think that’s a sign I’ve arrived at a place in my career where I am achieving what I want to achieve. And I know how it feels to have the Sunday blues from previous jobs!
10. What is your proudest achievement?
I’ve just completed the first year of the MW programme, which I never saw myself doing, but I don’t consider that to be my proudest achievement – it’s just part of my journey. One of the things that gave me a real sense of pride was finishing that Diploma, having paid for it myself, and winning the Moët & Chandon prize, because I love sparkling wines. When you do well in something that is of interest to you, that you actually care about, there is something a bit special about that. So far, that’s my proudest achievement.