Q&A with Grape Experience educator and DipWSET Matthew Gaughan on why the WSET Diploma is a must for wine trade professionals.
What were you doing when you started the Diploma and where are you now?
I started the Diploma in Manchester in the UK when I was working for Hangingditch Wine Merchants, an independent wine shop and bar. Later that year, I moved to California and finished the Diploma with Grape Experience in San Francisco. Taking the Diploma in two different countries opened me up to varied wine cultures and approaches to selling and drinking wine. Now I teach WSET for Grape Experience – it’s been quite a journey from student to educator.
How has the Diploma impacted your professional career?
In a very literal sense, I know so much more about wine than when I started the Diploma. That means I can speak to students and customers at the wine shop I work with authority – that builds up respect and trust. I can also apply that wine to so many aspects of my career in wine – buying wine, writing about wine, educating, and even when I travel. If I hadn’t taken the Diploma, it really would have limited my possibilities in the wine industry – and my enjoyment of working in it.
What would you say to individuals who are considering taking on the course? Any words of advice?
My advice is always: make sure you give yourself enough time to study and don’t get side-tracked by tasting. The theory is more difficult. I’ve actually set up a podcast, Matthew’s World of Wine and Drink, with episodes specifically designed to address theory topics that many of my students have found helpful. Diploma is all about demonstrating your understanding of the subject – if you can explain a topic to friends, family, or colleagues, then you will be able to do it in an exam no problem. Practice, practice, practice.
Are you excited about the changes to the Diploma?
The new Diploma is really going to help students get the most out of the course. What’s expected of students is much clearer – that it’s not just about the “what,” it’s about applying and explaining your knowledge. I’m looking forward to teaching it in August and seeing how it works in practice. I think students and educators alike are going to benefit greatly from the changes.
If you have passed your WSET Level 3 Wine and would like to embark on the new Diploma in Wine don’t wait. The new materials are available now and the first section, “Wine Production,” meets August 3-4 in San Francisco. You want to have time to read the incredible new Diploma textbook before class. Register at this link: https://www.grapeexperience.com/events/units-d1-d2-san-francisco-traditional-course/