Sunday, October 30, 2016

Studying Wine in London

I drink wine on a weekly basis and love trying different varietals and blends that are out there. My choice of preference these days is a Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot either pure or blended. The more complex the wine, the better. My love affair with wine and spirits began in childhood with a preference for alcohol laden desserts like Black Forest cake, Rum Raisin ice cream, Chocolates with liquors inside them, and my favorite ice cream flavor from Baskin Robbins was Daiquiri ice!

While I was a hospitality management postgraduate student in Switzerland, I would drink a bottle of wine a week and try new Swiss and French wines. Swiss wines aren't very known to most of the world's population as the production of Swiss wines from the local vineyards are not in the mass production units like in some regions of the world. However, Swiss wines make great dinner companions and the main grape variety of Pinot Noir for reds are light bodied, smooth, fragrant, and young grapes. Their white grape variety of Chasselas have hints of nuttiness yet remain fresh and light to the palate. Which means most people will like Swiss wines. You can read more about the import of Swiss wines to the US on the Wall Street Journal enquiry.

The art of winemaking goes back centuries and many of the Old World winemaking countries of France, Spain, Italy are very proud of their grape varietals and wines. To make good wine is not an easy feat as one must have extensive knowledge about the rules and regulations, the area, the soil, the climate, fermentation, and storing capabilities. The winemakers of the world continue to push boundaries due to the rise of competition and demand for good quality wines.

I decided to make my love affair with wine more official and enroll myself in one of the world's most recognized wine and spirits schools. WSET has satellite schools around the world with courses that are flexible in timing spread over a few weeks for each level, an online course, or intensive day courses. But one thing is certain, it is a wonderful exploration and education about wine. A glimpse into the wine industry. I decided on London because that city is a hub of excitement that reminds me of New York. As a former New Yorker, I wanted to be a part of that buzz even if it means frequent brief trips to London. London's global reputation also means that wines from old world and new world are easily accessible. WSET London is also the headquarters for the WSET. 

The education and study of wine at WSET makes sense to the wide world of wines and make it less intimidating. Its still intimidating when you walk into a tasting and people around you can tell you which type of grape, region, and even vineyard the wine comes from. I hope some day I'll get there. I think my nose and taste palate has gotten more acute the more tastings I attend.

Yes to the tastings! I was invited by a friend from my hospitality school to a wine pairing dinner at Blue Print Cafe because a representative from Waterkloof Wines in South Africa was going to be presenting the wines. Other alumni from my school were there at the 4 course wine pairing dinner and it was a really great night of wine, food, laughter, and meeting new and old friends. It was an excellent environment to learn in a supportive yet practical way that certain foods and wines can really complement each other and open up the palate. Part of the reason why I love wine is because of my love for taste explosions. A foodgasm that happens simultaneously with a winegasm! 

Why study wine in London!?

Here are my reasons:
1) Its at the WSET headquarters and recognised around the world.
2) The location is in London and a global centre for activity therefore a lot of different types of wines are available. (also where I'm currently semi-based, the cost of wine and spirits are ridiculously overpriced!)
3) Clear English instruction.
4) Wine tastings by the winemakers in different parts of London.
5) Exciting F&B scene
6) Proximity to Europe and I love Europe. :)
7) Seems like more than half of the alumni from my school ended up here. Friends and Networking :)
8) London reminds me vaguely of New York and I need that glimpse every now and then.


  1. I've always wanted to be more educated in wine. The closest I've come to a class was a fantastic, 3-hour tour of a vineyard in Napa.

    1. Its a lot to learn but so wonderful. Formal classes teach you how to describe all the taste sensations from a nice complex long finish full bodied wine in a language that people recognise and can identify with. :-) Also when you discover how food and wine pairings work - its like foodie heaven. :-0

  2. I can imagine the Swiss having a nice Ice Wine considering their winter weather and mountainous terrain.

    1. Actually Switzerland doesn't produce ice wines. They do Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chasselas grape varietals. Nice light wines that pairs well with food or easy drinking on the balcony