This week, we spoke to Amanda, a recent WSET graduate at Analogue Wine Merchant. She started her journey with a Level 1 course a year ago and is now awaiting results of the Level 3 exam, which she took last month. She doesn't currently work in the wine industry and has managed remarkable progress in her free time!
Here she gives you the low-down on her WSET journey and how it's changed her relationship with wine.
Hi Amanda! How did you become interested in wine in the first place?
My dad introduced me to wine, initially reds. At home, it became a "thing" that we would open a bottle together on special occasions. My dad put wine on a pedestal and treated wine as very special. I became very curious to find out more about what's inside the bottle, and why they can be valued so highly.
Why did you want to sign up to the WSET?
The more I drank, I realised that I was becoming more particular about the types of wine I enjoyed. This sparked my interest and I wanted to understand more about the winemaking behind these different styles. Signing up to the WSET was a way to learn about the factors and techniques that can contribute to the range of wines you see on the shelf.
Why did you choose to take your WSET courses with Analogue Wine Merchant?
AWM's courses offer possibly the best value for money in the Singapore market, although that wasn't the deciding factor for me. I like the cosy environment, and it's really fun to have a small group of 6 to 8 of us huddled together for a weekend. We share anecdotes and tasting notes, and we have our lunch together. Stella is very approachable and made the class lively, even though there was so much content to get through. She tailors the class to the level of the students. This made me feel a lot more comfortable and confident than I would have in a classroom, or in a lecture-style course.
Did you feel like there was a jump between the different levels?
Yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that the level of detail and depth of content increases exponentially, but also no, because the chapters are structured and laid out in the same which helps to make the increase in detail feel more manageable. Also, the time it takes to study for each of the three qualifications speaks for itself; you can take the test for Levels 1 and 2 on the same weekend when you had the classes, but for Level 3 you have a study break between the classes and your exam to revise everything you've learned.
What was the most challenging part of the course?
The tasting; I've never been in the industry and hadn't ever been assessed when tasting wines socially. Before the course, I only had a layman's appreciation for wine, the flavour and quality. During the course, I learned to develop my palate and calibrate it with professional tasters, like Stella.
Was there a new wine or region you discovered through the course?
Are there any wines or regions that you've changed your mind about since you've started studying wine?
France. I grew up with the impression that affordable French wines are not worth drinking. I used to think that unless you're willing to spend over $300, don't bother with French wines. But now that I've learned to read wine labels, I have a better understanding of the quality of French wines. I know what to look for, so I don't place so much emphasis on price any more.
Do you think you will continue studying wine?
Yes, definitely! I'd like to, and one of my bucket list items is to intern on a vineyard or to work a harvest.
If you're inspired by Amanda's story, sign up to one of Analogue Wine Merchant's (AWM) upcoming Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses. You can also get in touch with us to discuss any specific requirements.