How is best to prepare...?

Preparing for a wine course

Philip Conboy, London, asks: I’m about to start a Wine & Spirit Education Trust course and wanted to prepare myself.

Would you recommend practising with Le Nez du Vin, or another sensory kit showcasing aromas found in different wines?


Karen Douglas replies: My best preparation tip in advance of your course is to read the course textbook.

You will enjoy class tastings much more if you have expectations in place before putting your nose in a glass.

Timetable your pre-study time and reward yourself – if you are reading the chapter on Burgundy, treat yourself to a glass!

Write your own tasting notes

Sensory associations are a good way of making memories stick, so aroma kits can be useful but do need significant investment.

Many can be found for far less expenditure in the fruit, vegetable and spice sections of supermarkets.

The wines selected for WSET courses are chosen to help you identify the main aromas and flavours and develop your vinous memory bank.



You may have never tasted a gooseberry, but if and when you do it will most certainly remind you of Sauvignon Blanc.

If you want to know what wine smells and tastes like, then nothing is better than actually having a professional as your guide when you do so.

This is what makes WSET courses so much fun and unlike learning from a book or online.

Karen Douglas is director of global education at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

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