I suppose that in the grand scheme of things, if one needs to write an exam, there are worse places to have to do it than London, England. I must admit that this did somewhat factor in to my plan when I was researching the different APPs (Approved Programme Providers) that offer the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 4 Diploma. Never mind the fact that it’s drastically cheaper to take the diploma straight from the source than to take it locally in Western Canada (even with travel factored in), but it’s LONDON! Which means that not only is it a fabulous city to visit, but it’s also very close to many Old World wine regions! My study buddy/travel partner on this long road of the WSET Diploma, @vinewineandwander, agreed with me on this so, after spending 8 weeks studying the first unit (Unit 2 – Wine Production) and completing online coursework, we set off on a plane to London to sit our first exam and spend two days in class at WSET School London.
Although we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city outside of class, we crammed in as much as we could in terms of food & drink: 3 pubs, 3 wine bars, 1 food market, 1 dim sum restaurant (that has a female chef and only features wines, beers, ciders and spirits made by women), 1 Portuguese restaurant, and 2 amazing pop-up community-driven spaces that focus on small local producers of food from all different ethnicities, craft beer, craft cider, craft spirits, all under an umbrella of social responsibility and community sustainability: Pop Brixton and Mercato Metropolitano. Although I could go on about these last two for ages, all I will say is that something like this would be SO FABULOUS in the Okanagan.
We also were fortunate enough with the timing of our trip, to be able to attend a Georgian Wine Tasting put on by Georgian Wine UK and held at the venerable 67 Pall Mall. This was the first opportunity that I had had since visiting Georgia in 2014 to taste so many of the wines in one sitting – there were 73 wines and 1 whiskey that took us the better part of 3 hours to get through. These included 3 sparkling wines, 4 dry white wines (European winemaking), 21 qvevri amber wines (traditional Georgian), 17 qvevri red wines (traditional Georgian), 25 dry red wines (European winemaking), and 2 off-dry red wines. It was quite the experience, being in a room with many of the ‘who’s who’ in the wine world, but it was also reassuring to overhear tasting notes that aligned with my own! The wines that I found to stand out in the tasting are shown below.
As part of this trip, we added 4 days in the Champagne region in France (it’s only a 45 minute flight plus a one-hour drive away!) and I will post soon about our adventures in Champagne. Stay tuned!