Congratulations to Kelly Bishop, FWS for achieving highest honors in the French Wine Scholar exam with the Yorkshire Wine School, England.
I’m an editor, restaurant reviewer and food and drink writer for a North of England based lifestyle magazine called Confidentials. So I’m not strictly in the wine business but I do write about it. I’m also looking at starting to teach about wine and host wine tastings with a local wine school. I’m definitely a wine lover but coming from a very working class background, I didn’t have much opportunity to try a lot of different wine outside of the supermarket stuff until I started writing about wine and studying it. I’ve learned so much in the past few years, it’s amazing. I’m also a musician and songwriter in a band called The Empty Page - it’s surprising how many musicians are into wine. I think blending can be compared to mixing a song in the studio, getting all the components just right, balanced, and knowing whether to add effects and if so, how much. In both cases, the product at its barest foundation needs to be of good quality in the first place though.
I always knew I loved wine but I wasn’t confident about how to describe it or assess its true quality so I decided to do my WSET levels 1 and 2 so that I could write about it with a bit more authority. I loved learning about wine so much that I went onto level 3 and got a double distinction. I’m hoping to eventually do the diploma but my job is very demanding so I don’t have the time at the moment. The Wine Scholar courses seemed a perfect thing to explore in the meantime. Before I did FWS, I didn’t know all that much about French wine, just the basics I had learned on the WSET courses, so it was an enormous leap in understanding and I found it really interesting. I particularly loved learning how the history of France - and Europe in general - ties in with everything. I also really enjoyed exploring less famous wine regions like Jura and Corsica and of course the food notes for each region were a fun thing to look at too.
I’m hoping to take the Spanish Wine Scholar at some point this year. I think having done FWS, I will be more prepared for the sheer amount of reading and understanding needed. I hope I have cemented the basics now enough to be able to focus more on deepening my understanding of the regions, grapes and specialities in Spain. Eventually I hope to study IWS too and I think all of this should give me a good foundation for taking the leap to the WSET level 4 diploma.
As mentioned, I am hoping to start teaching and hosting tastings soon. Studying the FWS has given me a lot more confidence in my knowledge as well as a few fun facts to entertain people with. I have travelled extensively but I haven’t really visited many vineyards or wineries. Studying France in detail has made me decide that I will spend some time travelling around wine regions there as soon as I get the chance. I hope that I can also do some freelance wine writing on top of my day job which is very much focused on the local food scene in the North of England. If anyone is looking for an enthusiastic, young wine writer, get in touch!