Mastering WSET Level 3: Advanced Wine Studies and Tasting Techniques

WSET Level 3 Award in Wines is an expert-level course which demands patience, persistence and hard work from students. However, with some planning and a lot of determination, you can crack the exam and ensure better future prospects for yourself in the wine industry.

Wine professionals and enthusiasts who want to have excellent command over the subject can both pursue this course. With this qualification, you’ll get a deeper understanding of grape growing and winemaking. The course also equips you to assess wines accurately, and use your knowledge to analyse and communicate a wine’s style and quality. This course opens a world of opportunities for wine professionals and since this accreditation has high global relevance, it will broaden horizons for you.

How is WSET Level 3 different from other WSET courses?

The reason why students find this course intimidating is not just because of its vastness, but how different the examination is from other levels. For WSET Level 1 and Level 2, students have to solve multiple-choice questions for their exams and there is no blind tasting.

Also Read: How WSET Certifications Can Help Your Wine Career Grow

WSET Level 3, on the other hand, is divided into two units. To clear Unit 1, students have to write a closed-book exam consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions and a short-written answer paper. To clear Unit 2, students must assess two wines by blind tasting.

Breaking down WSET Level 3 syllabus

Students have to dedicate 84 hours of study time, including 30 hours of classroom or online delivery time with a WSET course provider and 2.5 hours of examination. However, you should put in more hours into self-study and revision if you feel that this duration is not enough for you to master the syllabus. Here’s what you’ll learn in Unit 1:

·        Key factors in the production of wine, including location, viticulture, winemaking techniques, maturation and bottling

·        How these key factors influence characteristics of the principal still, sparkling and fortified wines around the world

The Wine & Spirits Education Trust recommends a WSET Level 2 Award in Wines or an equivalent level of experience if you are planning to pursue this course.

Here are some tips to help you cover the WSET Level 3 syllabus:

Don’t stray from the WSET Textbook: Many students make the mistake of seeking study material elsewhere whereas the textbook contains everything that they need to clear the exam. Besides, the WSET Level 3 textbook familiarises you with the language and terminologies that examiners will look for in your answers. So master the textbook first and then refer to additional sources if you feel the need to do so.

Train yourself to understand the question: The key to a short-written answer paper lies in the question. Train yourself to break down the question and pay attention to words like describe, explain, define etc., as all of them require you to write the answers differently and will affect your score.

Use learning tools like flashcards: Don’t let the vast syllabus discourage you, instead make a study plan which breaks it down into smaller units that you can then conquer bit by bit. A great way to memorise all the information and to revise the course is flashcards. This question-and-answer style deck can be used in multiple ways- you can segregate cards based on regions, styles of wine, winemaking techniques etc. and use them to consolidate your learnings on a specific topic. Or you can use them to develop cues that’ll help you write short answers more effectively. To know more about Sonal Holland Wine Academy’s WSET Level 3 flashcards, write to us at [email protected].

Also Read: What does Mis en Bouteille mean on a French Wine label?

WSET Level 3 Tasting: Here’s How to Master it:

To master the blind tasting for your Unit 2 exam, first understand how the SAT and the exams work. This is a 41-point exam where you have to describe and evaluate two still wines- one white and one red, using SAT guidelines. The description and assessment of white wine is 20 marks while the same for red wine is 21 marks. Students often assume that they must identify the wines during blind tasting, however, that is not correct.

Here are some tips that can help you ace the blind tasting:

Taste, describe, repeat: The best way to master the guidelines is to practise them as much as possible. You can either attend wine-tasting sessions or select a course provider who’ll help hone your tasting skills. Also, make it a habit to use the SAT system to describe a wine whenever you taste one, even if it is at a party or a Sunday brunch.

Know the SAT guidelines and theory inside out: Students often lose out on marks because they do not use accurate terms to describe the wine during blind tasting. But this won’t happen if you know the SAT guidelines inside out and have a solid command over the theory. For instance, you should describe the aromas in a wine based on cluster descriptions- like the wine has herbaceous notes of tomato leaves or tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. But you must also answer questions like the intensity of wine- low, medium or high intensity. Also remember to use the SAT Specified words because if you use incorrect words, you won’t score marks for your answers.

At Sonal Holland Wine Academy, we ensure that all WSET Level 3 students master the SAT guidelines and have ample tasting experience of different styles of wine. Our world-class educators share their knowledge and experience with students during tasting sessions and promptly resolve any queries that you may have. Click here to sign up for WSET Level 3 Award in Wine with us.