WSET 1 – my experience

Geschreven door Alyssa Gammoudy

Alyssa Gammoudy

Review: WSET level 1

A lock down will not stop me from going on an adventure, and I’d like to take you with me on mine, through the WSET level 1 course. When I was a child, I was fascinated by how the Romans would make wine by stumping it with their feet. Unwashed feet… When I was 7, I wrote an essay on the topic ‘Wine’. And for as far as I remember I have been learning and reading about wine. It will not surprise you that I appreciate to drink a good glass of wine.  

This summer, during the Lock down, when you had few options in terms of things to do, but still could have ten people over, I organized a wine tasting for my neighbors. Amazing to share your passion with other people! 


To continue this journey on a more professional level, I decided to be sure my basic knowledge is up to date and complete, so I decided to start a course. There are two reasons I choose WSET over SDEN. The first is WSET is international and secondly the course is in English. The downside is that the first level is not offered online at all wine schools. In the end I choose Eleanor’s Wine Academy. Within a week after my application I received the WSET Level 1 workbook. A couple of days later I gained access to the online environment where you are provided with an overview with the necessary recourses (wines etc.) per module. Some schools offer a complementary tasting kit, mine doesn’t. 

The modules: don’t run before you can walk

Soon after I started, I already realized this course was a good idea. Not because it opened up a whole new world, but because some points that are at the base of ‘wine’ are listed out. For example: learning about grapes, the process of making red, white and rose. The influence of the distance from the equator on how grapes develop. Which tastes are important and how flavors influence wine. No rocket science, but very useful. Each module consists out of different chapters, when you start the module, you discuss the theory step by step and after each chapter you have some flash cards to test yourself and a quiz. At the end of the module you again get a quiz, for which you also get a grade. This gives a good indication whether you are ready for the exam or not. Then it’s time for the practical assignment (and I recommend to first go through the theory).  There are a few assignments before you actually start tasting wines but then again, you can’t run before you learn to walk. For the second module you need quite some items for the assignments, so it’s highly recommended to shop the items before you plan to do your homework, or even before you start the course. An example is ‘Tartaric acid’… it’s good that we have Google. To keep a long story short: this ingredient is also used in mascarpone and scones. I bought it at an oriental supermarket. For the third and 4th module it’s really more about tasting wines and experimenting with different tastes and flavors. Super fun and educational. This course really feels like an enrichment for my wine experience. During the course it’s really easy to switch around between the different modules, for a refresher or to prepare for the exam. All the theory online, is similar to the theory in the booklet you receive. 

Exam day! 

To prepare for the exam, you have a test exam online. But then it’s time for the real deal! We took the exam at the office of Eleanor’s Wine Academy in Amsterdam. It was very official and professional. You have to put your personal items in a separate room and are only allowed to bring a pencil and eraser to the test area. In total we were with about 8 people for WSET 1 and one person took the WSET 2 exam. For the first you get 45 minutes and the second 60 minutes. Also, you are not allowed to leave the exam area within the first 15 minutes after the exam starts. The instructions were very clear, and avoids the wrong information gets on the certificate 

I finished after 10 minutes, but I have always made my exams very quickly. After the examen all the papers are send over to WSET in London and the results are announced after 6-8 weeks. For me it does not really matter to be honest, because I already decided to go for level 2 and you don’t need level 1 for that. I would suggest that if you already have some knowledge, you can easily start with WSET 2, which I would have done in hindsight. 

Top 3 tips for WSET 1

  • Shop the needed items before the course commences, as much as possible. 
  • Use the online environment. This is available for a limited time, and there is a teacher who can answer all your questions. 
  • Have fun! Wine is an amazing product to enjoy and relax with, let this course do the same for you. 

Follow Alyssa Gammoudy and her journey on Instagram!

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