My taught classes for the WSET diploma are rapidly coming to an end. At 5.30pm on Wednesday March 7th I will be released into the world of private study and left to fend for myself until the finals on June 13th.
I’m not going to lie, I am somewhat dreading that moment. That point when I will no longer be guided through the intricacies of alcohol and tannin levels in wine, or the soil types in the various appellation of France, or the impact of ocean currents in South America. That sudden realisation that you’ve got three months to somehow focus your learning and then, er… learn it all!
However, I’m not alone. During the first semester last year an amazing thing happened. A group of people all from different backgrounds, some not even in the industry, became a wine support network for each other. We got together for tastings, shared the cost and calibrated our palates and it somehow got me through a fortified wine exam.
But in many ways it’s not the shared tastings that matter most. It’s having a set of people who don’t mind a crazy WhatsApp message asking a random question about Cava innovations, or if they have the recent export figures for the Asti DOCG or frankly just want to have a rant about marking schemes. People who update you on their word count and remind you about cover sheets three hours before hand in deadlines.
They encourage you to buy the weird Slovenian white blend just because you want to taste it and will travel for hours to have boozy lunches and then shake their heads at you when you confess you can only “taste” as you’ve booked a yoga workshop that evening (but accept it nonetheless).
Now I don’t know if I’m going to pass my finals, but I do know that this wonderful, amazing and utterly mad group of people will help get me there as best they can, and I’ll be there doing it for them. I couldn’t have made it through these two years without their support.
So if you’re doing the diploma, considering the diploma or in fact anything equally intense, let down your guard and find those people in the room who are generous with their time, knowledge and fun, they’ll be the best support you can have along the way.