The School Blog

London Wine Week Event – Wine Zero to Wine Hero – June 2014

LWW1401This year hosted the first ever London Wine Week, of which the WSET was a proud sponsor. On Thursday 5th June, we held an event for consumers that would give them the knowledge and skills to have more confidence when choosing a bottle of wine, and also some crucial food and wine pairing tips. Hosted by Michelle Cherutti-Kowal, the fun and informal evening started with tips on how to taste and a guess the aroma exercise to start testing the senses. Attendees then tasted some wines to see what aromas and flavours they could identify. A run through a wine list then helped to identify key regions, grape varieties and wine styles before more wines were tasted and then ultimately pitched against some different food combinations to see what came out on top. A fun evening was had by all!

The WSET Awards and Graduation Ceremony – January 2014

WSET_Presentation_2014_018 (3)On Monday 20th January, the WSET hosted its seventh annual Awards and Graduation Ceremony in London’s Guildhall. The event recognises the achievements of WSET students, awarding particular excellence at different levels and congratulates all students who have passed the WSET Diploma. Students who have studied worldwide attend the ceremony, and this year 25 different nationalities were present. The U.K. remains the largest market for WSET students and the WSET School is proud to have taught 157 of this years Diploma graduates. At the ceremony, Jancis Robinson MW passed over the WSET’s Honorary Presidency to Gerard Basset OBE MW MS. If you would like to view photographs from the event, please click here.

Gerard Basset Tastings – October & November 2013

The WSET School hosts a range of consumer tastings, and occasionally we have special events. This year we were pleased to again welcome Gerard Basset to host two evening tastings for us that looked at French Wines with Style. Gerard Basset OBE is both a Master of Wine and Master Sommelier and it is great to be able to offer wine tastings to both WSET students and the general public with someone of such expertise. Both evenings were a great success with a variety of wines to taste that really showed the diversity and stylistic differences that French wine is capable of. Gerard is a great personality and presenter, and some of the wines were tasted blind to add to the experience. To see what other events we have coming up please click here.

Gin Ramble 2 – September 2013

Our first Gin Ramble in February of this year was so popular that we held another one! A whole day off all things Gin kicked off at the WSET School where the guests started with a tasting of the individual botanicals used in Gin production by Ian and Hiliary of Sacred Gin. This was followed by a talk and tasting from Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillers who produce numerous Gins in London and whose family have been distilling for generations. After that the ramblers set off to the Princess Victoria pub in Hammersmith. The pub was a former Gin Palace, and in this suitable setting the guests learnt about Beefeater and tasted their original and No.24 gins. A two course lunch was then served with the Gin & Tonic jelly proving the dessert of choice for many! Suitably full, the ramblers then visited the Sipsmith distillery where they could see Prudence (their copper still) and learn about the company and its products, tasting their vodka, gin and sloe gin. The journey then continued with a visit to the London Distillery Company in Battersea who produce Dodd’s Gin.  Here the ramblers were treated to Negroni cocktails, and able to vote on the botanicals to be used to create their very own Gin Ramble Gin which will be produced specially for the attendees. To round off the day the group then returned to Bermondsey Street to 214 Bermondsey Gin & Cocktail bar where Tom Sandham of Thinking Drinkers and Lawrence created 3 different cocktails, explaining their history and ingredients. Martini, Corpse Reviver No. 2 and Bramble cocktails were all sampled and then the ramblers could choose their favourite to have to finish off the day.

If you would like to be notified of the date for our next Gin Ramble please email Lydia with your name and once the date is finalised she will let you know.

Trip to Franken, Germany – September 2013

Three lucky members of the WSET, including myself, Lydia, from the School, were invited by the German Wine Institute to visit the region of Franken. Over 4 days we visited numerous wineries, from small family owned producers to larger co-operatives, including the Juliusspital, the largest producer in the region. It was a fascinating experience where we learned a lot about the region and it’s wines, especially the grape varieties of Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. It is a very picturesque region with many of the vineyards situated on the steep banks of the river Main, overlooking the different villages. We also learnt about the changes to the VDP classification and the drive for quality among its voluntary members.

New Consumer Events Flyer – August 2013

We have just taken delivery of our shiny new flyers that detail all our forthcoming evening tasting events between now and December 2013.   From Rum to Malt Whisky and Spain to Australia, there’s something for everyone.  A particular highlight are the two tastings hosted by Gerard Basset OBE MS MW, entitled ‘French Wines with Style’ – an opportunity to taste with a true expert.  Have a browse through our flyer on the following link: and see what takes your fancy.  Alternatively, you can view all the tastings listed on our website:

Welcome Jim Gore! – August 2013

This week we have welcomed a new member of staff to the WSET School team, Jim Gore.  Jim worked for the WSET and has been promoted to the School department where he will be responsible for the WSET Level 2 qualification. He will begin teaching Levels 1 and 2 shortly, followed by Level 3 in due course.  Jim has passed his WSET Diploma and Educator course, and also lived in Burgundy for two years.  We would like to wish him a warm welcome and hope you all make him feel at home in his new role!

New Online Classroom – August 2013

We have been busy creating a new and improved Online Classroom facility for WSET students.  The whole site has been redesigned based on student feedback. It’s now easier to use and includes more content.  The new site is also more mobile device friendly so that students can view it effectively if accessing it through a mobile or tablet, making studying on the go a lot easier.  Check out the new facilities here:


The first Gourmet Course – July 2013

On 22nd July we began our first Gourmet Course, combining our WSET Level 2 qualification with an added emphasis on food and wine pairing over the course of 5 days. We kept a diary of the weeks events, have a look at what it entailed.


Making it personal…

A strange heading, but that’s the informal strapline we’ve assigned to the Food & Wine section as part of our Level 1 & 2 qualifications. It must be said from the start that this change in direction does not dismiss the old wisdom of previous teachings, but rather emphasises the importance of personal preference when deciding on suitable food and wine pairings. We all have differing sensitivities to the five tastes; sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (savoury); to some extent dependant on genetic make-up and historical and environmental factors. This revision of materials reflects that an individual’s reaction to a particular food and wine pairing will be as unique as their preferred wine choice. It is possible, however, to group people according to their sensitivities in order to better understand preference and make a more successful food and wine pairing. Our Level 1 & 2 qualifications in Wine utilise a simple test to assess student’s bitter tolerances. Not only is this exercise an excellent way to illustrate to students the diversity of tasting sensitivities within one particular class, but it also helps us tutors better explain food and wine interactions.

The aim of the revised food and wine programme as part of WSET qualifications is not to identify one suitable wine pairing for each selected dish. The purpose is to help students highlight the main considerations for a particular food type, and make a suitable recommendation based on their (or their customers), preference that will avoid negative interactions and result in a positive experience. There seems little point recommending a fully-flavoured, tannic red to someone who only enjoys light whites! Perhaps the adage “life’s too short to drink bad wine” should read “life’s too short to drink something you don’t like”!

For more information on food & wine pairing as part of a Level 1 & 2 WSET qualifications or as an Evening Tasting please click on one of the following links: