WSET Diploma (my journey)

To anybody who wants to know about Diploma level at WSET. It is like a wine university!
Here’s some light explanations + my journey on Bermondsey St.

WSET provides education on wine and drinks business through many levels. Final level is Level 4 aka Diploma. There are many study models inbetween you can choose, such as:
– semester course
– day release semester course
– block release semester course
– evening course
and so on..

WSET was one of my main reasons why I moved to London. I am old fashioned classroom attending student, can’t deny it. Did Level 2, Level 3 and now Diploma 1st semester is almost done.
I took the day release course which means I attend usually either Monday or Tuesday classroom sessions (9.30 until 5 pm). Yes once per week. Seems nice and easy, but that day is very intensive and the amount of self-study is just massive. 2 semesters = 2 academic years. I feel sorry for those who are doing block release course. That means hyper 4-6 days straight classes + exam following straight. That is just mental.

So to explain the structure of Diploma, it consists of six Units: Unit 1, Unit 2..each one is like a major topic which ends with an exam or two, case study or other kind of evaluation.

Here are Units and their topics (during Diploma you will go through those Units in irregular sequences)

Unit 1 Global Business (global and local drinks market and the marketing of alcoholic
Unit 2 Wine production (a detailed theoretical study of viticulture, vinification,
maturation, treatments and packaging)
Unit 3 Light wines (acquired specialist product knowledge and commercial understanding for
for the all major wine producing countries, their regions and subr.)
Unit 4 Spirits (study of all production methods and mandatory in-depth product knowledge
and commercial knowledge of all spirits)
Unit 5 Sparkling wine (you can imagine; all about everything bubbly)
Unit 6 Fortified wines

First Unit what everybody has to pass is Unit 2. If you do not pass, you won’t be able to continue. It is extremely important, cause production of wine is the base! Makes sense.

Once you passed you will be continuing Unit 6. There is no such thing as starting with Unit 1, then Unit 2,3. It is irregular.

Unit 6 finishes with closed book exam with 2 parts. First part you have to answer to 3 questions, and then follows blind tasting of 3 fortified wines.

In my fortified exam, closed book exam I had great questions:

  1. How Port is terms of climate etc
  2. Wood maceration in fortified wines
  3. Amontillado

Don’t remember exactly how the question were, but you get the idea.
You had time 30 min to answer those questions, so 10 min per question.

Second part I had to assess 3 fortified wines according to SAT.

Unit 1 Global Business exam followed very quickly. It is also divided between 2 parts. First I had to attend a closed book examination where again was 3 questions. This first part was called ”Case Study”and the topic was released 20 days before examination date.
So my topic (2017 April) was Selling Wine Online. (Thank you, WSET! Such an amazing topic).

An article entitled ‘Online Wine Sales To Grow Globally’ appeared in the online edition of The Drinks Business on 17 June 2015. It quoted a study from Bordeaux’s Kedge Business School which had reported growth in online wine sales of around 600% since 2006, picking out Britain and China as potential leaders in this sector. In the USA and other countries this route to market is still quite small. As with conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing, the opportunities for online wine sales vary from country to country (and sometimes within a country). Regulations, consumer demographics, internet literacy, cost and local traditions can all influence the speed with which consumers embrace the purchasing of wine electronically. Over the next few years it will be fascinating to see if e-commerce is a ‘disruptive technology’ or a ‘sustaining technology’ when it comes to selling wine.


So based upon the given topic ”Online wine sales” we had to research every angle of wine sales, retailing, on-and off-trade, marketing, branding online, statistics etc.

So last week I went to do that Case Study exam. Had my readings and reasearch done but had no fucking idea what will be asked this time.

Following questions were:
1) Discuss the growth in importance of online wine sales to global wine industry. (no joke, word by word) 30%
2) What are the challenges facing retailer seeking to sell wine online (50%) (probably the easiest and loved question among my classmates)
3) Explaine with your own words > the future for online wine sales.

Still waiting the result for that exam. I am horrified. There is also second part for Unit 1.. and that is Coursework Assignment / 4000 word etc. My topic is too much. Never could imagine such a topic to come up: Protectionism in the drinks market. Context: For the first time, the post Second World War consensus concerning free trade seems to be under threat. In the years ahead it is possible that tariffs and other barriers could be imposed in several key markets. Drinks producers already face restrictions on free trade in many countries.

Isn’t that just lovely. November is the due!

I have already registered to my final year, the 2nd semester which starts 11th of September.

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