One of the most common things I hear from people interested in the WSET program is “I want to take Level 2 but I can’t because I haven’t taken Level 1 yet.”
Let me set the record straight: you do not have to take Level 1 to take Level 2. In fact, for most people who have some basic wine knowledge I strongly recommend starting with Level 2.
Level 2 is the perfect entry into formal wine study and, as a course, builds a complete foundation for future learning or a confident, successful wine career. People enter Level 2 with various degrees of knowledge. Some people may know very little beyond grape names and wine brands – their foundation has a few key “brick” out, but needs to be more formally built. Other people may know quite a lot about a specific wine or wine region – Napa or Bordeaux for example – but have limited knowledge about other producing areas such Australia, Chile or Germany. For this person Level 2 fills in the holes and creates a solid wine knowledge structure.
Confidence is the key word to describe the outcome of a successful Level 2 candidate. The course focuses on creating a strong understanding of the major wine grapes and how they show themselves in regions across the globe. Level 2 provides a survey of wine styles and levels of quality. After Level 2, a student can look at any major wine label and identify how that wine should taste, its level of quality and relative price point. They can speak about, purchase and make recommendations on wine with confidence.
Level 2 also showcases how to taste like a professional. It introduces WSET’s famous Systematic Approach to Tasting, which creates an even playing field to compare and contrast all wines. During the 8 segments of the Level 2 course over 45 wines are tasted.
Level 2 delivers students enough knowledge to make them savvy wine consumers or assured wine professionals, but not so much as to overwhelm them. Grape Experience Level 2 classes are interactive and designed to be fun. People work together to figure out how to speak about a wine and creatively convey its attributes. There are no wrong answers or dumb questions. Instead, the class is a safe place to formulate new ideas, build better understanding and to network with other people.
The Level 2 course culminates with a one-hour, 50-question multiple choice exam. The exam tests knowledge learned in a fun, almost game-like way. I like to say it is sort of like playing “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” except you can’t phone a friend or ask the audience. What you can do is usually eliminate two of the four answer options.
So who is Level 2 really for? The answer is just about everyone. If you are thinking of taking a formal wine course or starting the WSET program than Level 2 is for you. If you are working in wine but want to enhance your knowledge to be better at your job or grow in your career, Level 2 is the place to start. If you are thinking about starting a career in wine or want to work in regions outside of the US than Level 2 is what you need to begin that process!
Grape Experience has several options available to join a Level 2 course. All can be found at http://www.grapeexperience.com/classes/level-2-intermediate-wine-spirits