This past weekend, I ran our latest quarterly Level 3 Wine Tasting workshop. This study session is offered to Level 3 and aspiring Level 3 students as an introduction to the Level 3 Wine exam, as well as focus on the Level 3 Wine tasting technique. The exam at Level 3 involves a tasting component, with an expectation for accurate notes to be written for two blind samples. Students have 30 minutes to complete this portion of the exam before taking on the theoretical sections.
During the tasting workshop, we work through multiple flights of wine samples, as well as focus on the impact of climate and other aspects of winemaking to to the wine style and ultimately quality level. The point of tasting blind - and really to studying the WSET Level 3 and other blind tasting skills - is to learn to remove the known variable of a wine, such as producer, grape, region, price - and simply focus on what is in the glass. The goal is to use our theoretical knowledge of winemaking and other related concepts to better understand the sample in the glass. In the examination process, students are expected to give a response of the perceived quality and drinkability/age-ability of the wine.
I am often left with a number of sample bottles that might otherwise go to waste (I can only drink so much!), but I do put them to good use. I have found that recording a video for my students to use and follow the process of blind-tasting can be quite useful in their approach to studying. When I was studying for advanced qualifications in any of the disciplines (WSET, MW and CMS), I found it very helpful to do "Mind-Tastings".
This is a form of study where I would watch or listen to others blind-taste and use the information given by the other candidate to formulate an impression of the wine in my mind. Using the clues in the note to build my understanding of the sample, and then draw a conclusion to the identify from them. This forces you to use theoretical knowledge and understanding of grapes, growing regions, winemaking and a whole host of other points to build a profile image of the wine. Its quite fun and I found it to be extremely useful in building my understanding of a variety of wine types.
I have consolidated the wine notes from this past weekend's samples into a series of videos where I walk through the WSET Level 3 approach to tasting. At the end of each video I share the identity of each wine. These are listed below and each video has a link to the SAT notes for each wine so students can see how I would write an actual tasting grid in conjunction with the video of each wine.
Use these videos to conduct your own mind-tasting, and see how well you can taste wines. These notes are designed for Level 3, but aspiring Level 3 students can also benefit from watching them.
Mind-tasting sample #1
Mind-tasting sample #2
Mind-tasting sample #3
Mind-tasting sample #4
Mind-tasting sample #5
Mind-tasting sample #6
Mind-tasting sample #7
Mind-tasting sample #8
Mind-tasting sample #9
Mind-tasting sample #10
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With 30 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.