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Wiens on Wine - Wine Education

Posted on October 6, 2023

This post originally appeared in our Wine Line email newsletter. Stan was kind enough to let us post it on our blog as well. Thanks, Stan!

Learn alongside Stan as he completes WSET Level 4.

Days to Final Exam: 377

This week’s focus: Wine Education

First, here is an update on where my WSET Level 4 Diploma journey has taken me. A group of 24 students met in Kelowna, B.C., this past January for our first lectures, complete with many wine tours, and a focus on Viticulture and Winemaking. Level 4 takes two years to complete and has 6 required areas of focus, complete with theory and blind-tasting exams. We wrote the first exam in February and I am glad to say, after three months of waiting for the results, I passed. We wrote the second exam in March (Wine Business) and I will let you know when I hear the results…unless I fail. The next theory and tasting exam will be on sparkling wine and fortified wine (January of 2024), followed by a final exam in May of 2024. The sixth component is a research paper on a topic-specific wine, which will be given to us in August (exactly what I want to be working on this summer). All this to say, level four is intense and not for everyone. So what about you? What is the best way to learn about the vast world of wine?

There are many schools of thought (pun intended) on how best to grow your knowledge base about wine and here are two suggestions.

First, take a small but formal step. There are many great education providers – I chose to go with Fine Vintage Ltd. WSET Levels 1 can be done in a day, WSET 2 is usually done over a three-day period. WSET 3 takes a little longer. There is also the International Sommelier Guild, specific classes on wine regions, food pairings and many more. If you go down this road, I encourage you to do it with a friend.

Second, you can learn informally by being just a little bit intentional. Here is what I mean:

  1. Be adventurous and try something new! Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try a varietal or region you haven't explored before. Talk to your wine professional – we love to help with this
  2. Focus on one region, and try three or four wines from one specific area. For example, try a small region like Beaujolais and select an inexpensive and simple Beaujolais, Beaujolais Village (a general blend of grapes from the region), Beaujolais “Moulin a Vent” (or any of the 10 villages, which is a more concentrated style from specific vineyard sites).
  3. Take notes! Keep track of the wines you try, what you liked or didn't like about them, and any other relevant details. This can help you identify patterns and preferences over time, and make more informed choices in the future. 


Obviously, visit your wine store, buy something new, and keep it fun!

Stan Wiens can be found working at our shop sporadically in between lengthy bouts of drinking wine ("studying") in order to complete Level 4 of the WSET program.

You can also find Stan on Instagram: @wiensonwine

This entry was posted in Wine, Wiens on Wine



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