Notes on the WSET Diploma, Week 4: Beer (and age)

Posted By Chris Kaplonski on Nov 3, 2015


Beer. That was the key point of yesterday’s sessions. But I’ll come back to that in a bit.

The morning was devoted to the first sessions on the wine and spirits market, both global and local. Important to know, but, to me at least, not particularly interesting. So I’ll pass over it in silence. The afternoon was the port tasting session. Here the most interesting bit was the element of age. In addition to the theory and background stuff, we tasted eight ports, of a variety of styles and ages. These ranged from entry-level through to a 35 year old vintage port. Ruby, Tawny, LBV and vintage. Even though I’m familiar with the effects of aging on wine, it is still interesting to have a chance to taste side-by-side a cheap, recent tawny Port, and nice 10 and 20 year old ones. It does really bring home the potential of aging. Even more so were the last two Ports – a 2011 vintage and the 1980 one. One knows intellectually that the 1980 at one point tasted like the 2011 does now, but it is perhaps like trying to imagine a grandparent as a new-born. You know it is the case, but it doesn’t seem quite believable.

Anyway, beer. No, we didn’t study it yesterday, but after class some of us went across the street and drank some. I’ll remind you, Gentle Reader, that the first part of the site’s name is ‘Anthro.’ I’m thinking (or trying to) treat the WSET Diploma like a fieldwork site as much as a learning experience. So, from time to time (like now), I’ll reflect on more anthropological stuff on the blog. There are a couple of reasons I mention the beer, besides it was pretty good. First, I was somewhat amused that we were all in agreement. We were off work, or school, and no more wine. A big mug of beer looked good. And was. Second, it seems as if at least our small section of the group is starting to feel like something more than a bunch of people in the same room. It’s a nice feeling – we are all in this together, and as someone put it last night, it would be a long two years if no one ever talked to each other. Oddly enough, the other table (the class has about 17 people, roughly split into two long tables) seems to talk much less to each other, but perhaps our table isn’t just paying enough attention. A few of them are chatty enough in the morning, before it gets going.

I’m not making any great claims about this. It isn’t the sudden creation of a wine-tasting community, or some such. Rather, it was one of those fieldwork moments when things seem like perhaps maybe they’ll sort of work out. One of the many tiny steps along the way. And besides, it is nice to think you won’t be spending the rest of your classroom time over the next two years not talking to the people sitting next to you. (Even for me, the less social half of Anthroenology.)

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