Now the wait begins…
Studying for the WSET Diploma Part 1: Wine Production and Part 2: Wine Business exams felt like being back in college…late nights, stacks of notes cards, charts taped to the walls and those nervous butterflies fluttering around in my stomach.
It seems kind of silly to think about. Wine is supposed to be fun and it’s not like these exams will dictate me getting a job or not, but for some reason I allowed myself to get riled up and stressed about them. I guess it just comes from the passion and belief if I’m going to take on a challenge then I’m all in. There’s no half-assing it and failing is not an option.
Now, while I was stressed about the exams, the process of learning and diving deeper into viticulture and winemaking was stimulating and exciting. I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge and that I have the foundation to move forward with the next parts of the Diploma level studies—wines of the world, sparkling wines, and fortified wines.
But first, I wait to see if I passed these initial exams!
It takes 8-10 weeks to get the results because the WSET headquarters are in London where our handwritten essay exams are mailed to be graded. And yes, you heard that correctly, the exams are handwritten essay questions involving a classic #2 pencil. WSET has not gone digital, which in many ways honors the tradition and reverence of wine’s heritage.
Yet, this waiting is completely contrary to our current world, where instant gratification is achieved for almost everything. Order something from Amazon and it’s on your doorstep the next day. Want to watch a movie, no need to wait to go to the theater or a DVD, just stream it. Owe a friend money, Venmo and voilà!
This instant gratification has disturbed wine production, too. Rarely in new world countries are wines aged for more than a couple years before being released. This is fine for many white wines and rosés, but there are other whites and many reds where if left to age longer, they would evolve to reveal their full greatness.
Brunello di Montalcino from Italy must be aged a minimum of five years, two of which must be in barrel before they are sold. Rioja Gran Reserva reds must be also be aged a minimum of five years, 18 months of which must be in barrel before they are sold.
Most wine regions don’t have these regulations, which is understandable since the time spent aging wines means loss of cash flow for wineries. Winemaking costs and competition have increased, and this means many wineries can’t afford to age their wine for five years before releasing them.
The Crush Collection has had the opportunity to feature a few older vintages over the past few months because we appreciate the complexity of older wines like the 2011 Front Porch Syrah, the 2016 Wine Snob* Chardonnay and the 2013 Viszlay Zinfandel. It’s rare to find older vintages on grocery store shelves, but there is so much to discover in these more mature bottles. (learn more about the Crush Collection here-insert hyperlink.)
So, while I wait the next several weeks rehashing the exam questions over and over in my mind trying to guess whether I passed or not, I’ll sip some older vintages of wine to remind myself that “good things come to those who wait.”
And this blog will also need to wait until I start the next chapter of my WSET journey in a couple months.
Until then, Cheers!