WSET Diploma - Done and Dusted
On a grey winter's day in Manchester I started the WSET Diploma; two and a half years and eight exams later, on a sunny summer's day in California I finally received the result for my last exam on fortified wine. I passed, meaning that I passed all six units at the first attempt, and I am officially done and dusted with the Diploma, feeling both euphoria and relief.
It's been a long, exhausting, and challenging process, but I've got a huge amount out of it. When I started I thought I already knew a lot about wine, but I now realise how little I actually knew. The world of wine is huge, and for the Diploma I've had to write an essay on China, study Indian, Japanese, and Cypriot wine, and learn the differences between all the Burgundy villages. And that's just wine: one of my first exams was on spirits, and I had to jump into a month-long crash course on all the varied production methods and styles of spirits. (Somehow, I passed that exam with merit, I don't know how.)
Despite occasional frustration, it's all been worth it. I'm a much better taster, my writing has become more precise, and my knowledge about wine is extensive - although I'm perhaps more humble about admitting what I don't know, because one thing I've learnt is that you can never know everything about wine.
I'd highly recommend anyone who is serious about a career in the industry taking the WSET Diploma, but don't take it lightly. It's a lot of hard work and the WSET require a very rigorous approach to both tasting and writing about wine. Even as someone who has a PhD, the Diploma is as tough a qualification as it's possible to take. Which is why I'm pretty proud to have passed.