01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

WSET Level 2 - Advice sought please


Finally sat my level 3 this weekend following a super intensive 6 days (2 x 3 day weekends) at the Yorkshire Wine School. I’d say it was a considerable step-up in both tasting and knowledge. The knowledge part was indeed a lot harder mainly due to having to articulate so much more for the written paper - Really focussing on your application of knowledge to the question rather than just your general knowledge.

I definitely would recommend level 2 first and give it a good few months at least of going away, doing more reading, more tasting to the systematic standard, keeping a tasting diary and watching everything you can on youtube to do with viticulture, winemaking and about wine regions.

I’d also highly recommend doing the qualification if you can at the Yorkshire Wine School. Laura, who runs the school is an absolutely brilliant teacher and has the patience of a saint!

I’ve now got about a 10 week wait for the results and then hopefully further consideration for something else. The Diploma seems a bit of a monster as well as being expensive, but I love the idea of some structure when it comes to your hobby, so who knows :grinning:


Lovely to hear your reflections, @Nowt_in_my_glass - and they’re very similar to mine, though I’m still very much in the middle of my WSET 3. Man, it’s a step up from level 2! Definitely all about application of knowledge, rather than just regurgitating facts. In a way, it makes it so much more interesting - but it does force you to articulate connections between location, climate, geography, soil, grape type, winemaking style ALL the time.

I’m loving it so far, and revising/reading lots. It’s rather nice, as my daughter is currently sitting her GCSEs, so we revise together in the conservatory. Helps us both to motivate each other :slight_smile:

I agree about doing Level 2 first - it really anchored my knowledge, but some people (our very own @Bargainbob for example) managed well even without it. I totally agree about the importance of structured notes for tastings too - best way to practice.

Hope you get a fab result in your exam!! :+1::+1:


Awwww fab stuff @inbar - How have you found the mock questions? From memory, it was very similar standard to answering a GCSE standard paper - Lots of explain, describe and linking theory to an application. How have you adapted to the 5 point scale? I think this was the biggest thing and really appreciated the comments from one of the above posters to trying to adapt your palate to your tutor…that’s the real key.

I think the thing I found hardest was writing with a pen for a solid 3 hours!! Not done that in 10 years…my hand was like a claw by the end! :rofl:

We did have some outrageous tasting samples too. The standout wines included a Barolo which hummed with perfume and an aged oz rielsing which the entire class collectively swooned over with no-one saying a thing…just a notable ‘wow’ or gasp as they stuck their nose in the glass. Magical!


Quite a challenge at first - because concepts were ‘flying’ in my head and I had to learn to silence the general noise so I can focus on what they’re actually asking, and on what connections I’m actually supposed to demonstrate. On the plus side, I used to be an academic mentor to students with mental health difficulties, so I know some very good techniques on how to ‘home in’ on what is asked of me pretty quickly. As you say, it’s the writing by hand that is the killer!

As for the 5 point scale - I actually much preferred it. Low/med/high didn’t always seem to capture the nuances of things like intensity or acidity - so nice to have plus and minus to play with :slight_smile:

I actually find the calibrating my palate to my tutor’s bit the most challenging aspect at the moment. I got an excellent tutor - Jonny - at the Sussex Wine School. He’s really good at helping us focus our thoughts when we taste, but I can’t say I always taste what he does, and there were a couple of occasions where I disagreed completely. Having said that - he’s always open to challenges, so it’s nice to ‘debate’ certain aspects. The whole activity is SO subjective, that there’s something really counterintuitive about trying to turn it into an objective process - though I get why it’s important as a means of grounding you in the stages of tasting etc.

What pleases me most, is that - as my tutor is also a WS member- a lot of the wines we taste come from TWS. So I get to taste lots of wines that are languishing in my Wish List - and a couple have already made it into my basket! :smiley:

The highlight for me so far was the Oncle Vincent, which I posted about elsewhere, and we all swooned over this gorgeous 2015 Ribera del Duero which was so good - I couldn’t believe the price. Another stunner was this Vouvray- must get one ASAP… :heart_eyes:


Every time i talk to you my wishlist increases! Aw so glad you’re getting on well with it, let us know how your exam goes!

Fyi we had questions on
Riesling as a grape
Riesling in the vineyard
What to expect when you open an auslese and why
California and climatic effects on premium wines
Southern rhone blending and why
Viognier as a grape
Rose making and California zinfandel
Comparisons between fino and px


Clearly I’m a medium size ‘influencer’… :wink:

BTW - I’m off to practice answering these questions!!


Nicely done!! I’m sure you’ve smashed it! :smile:

I’m 8 weeks in to my diploma and would say that level 3 really does give you a good foundation for it. It is more in depth but its just going in to a slightly finer level of detail, (that being said the study guide for viti vini is the size of the whole level 3 book…) but it’s more about expanding on your knowledge application. Level 2 asks for the facts. Level 3 asks for the facts and their effects. Level 4 asks for the facts, their effects, and the reasons for those effects.

The tasting side is weighted much more towards your conclusions and asks you to give reasons for your quality assessment, readiness for drinking, grape variety choice, and region of origin.

It’s definitely worth doing but it is A LOT of work!


Aw thanks for the info @MrLaura, good to know conceptually what the next level of thinking is. I guess it is generally more of a trade qualification, so the bill is probably picked up mostly by whichever company is putting their employee through it or they can claim training expenses on tax if they’re freelance.

I think the general cost is going to be the biggest factor and i’ll be personally funding it, so currently I’m thinking I can get a great deal of wine to improve my tasting palate + attend a number of tastings for the same investment.


This echoes my feelings, @Nowt_in_my_glass! I know for sure that I will not follow level 3 with the diploma. It does feel more like a worthy exercise for those in the trade, though.
Like you, I will be investing in tasting events/tutorials, and there is always French/Italian wine scholar too… :+1:


Either that @inbar…or I finally start that ‘hire a wine butler’ service I also dreamed of! :joy:


I’m doing the Italian Wine Scholar after WSET3 and highly recommend it. The comprehensive and in depth focus on one country has really opened my eyes to the variety of Italian Wines and broadened my palate. The WSET doesn’t go into that level of detail (for obvious reasons).


If I had to choose just one country’s wines to drink for the rest of my life, it would be Italy. :heart_eyes: :it: :heart_eyes: So much variety from the Valle d’Aosta and Veneto to Puglia and Pantelleria and all points in between.


I did the French wine scholar but am quite interested in the Italian one, I believe there are two books?? Is it split into North and South do you know?


It’s two units and split into North and South - so quite a lot to digest. I’m doing a course that’s one night a week so manageable to get through the information. It’s taken about 6 months for Unit 1 and 2 with a month break in between. I’m thinking of the FWS or Spanish WS after this but might take a break from ‘formal study’ for a bit once I’ve done the Italian Unit 2 exam.


Its incredible - the variety is just breathtaking.


I am definitely leaning more towards the Italian Wine Scholar as my next course- though plenty to think about with WSET 3 at the moment, for sure. :crazy_face:

Funnily enough, other than Sicilian reds, and the reds of Alto Adige/Trentino/Vale d’Aosta and Pugia- I don’t really drink much Italian red. I rarely leap to buy wines from Tuscany or Piedmont, for example - I don’t really know why.

The whites, on the other hand, I absolutely adore. The variety is incredible - and it seems that there’s something for everyone, whatever the region.