Drink Well, Live Well

Wine Knowledge Categories

Wine Knowledge Categories

What does it mean to “know wine”?

This is the central question of today’s post, but it’s also the question that drives my learning strategy. I use this question to determine what I should focus on, and how and when I should learn it.

Since wine is a topic that encompasses so many other topics (chemistry, geography, business, agriculture, just to name a few), it can be challenging to develop a systematic approach to acquiring knowledge (note: this is true for almost any other subject, as well!). Since I’m not the first person to go about learning about wine, I looked at some of the well-known education opportunities that already exist to see how they approach it.

I’m taking the WSET Level 2 exam in July, so I thought it made sense to start there. The Wine & Spirit Education Trust offers courses and four levels of certifications in wine. After reviewing the descriptions of each certification, I’ve organized the basic categories of wine knowledge as follows:

  1. Factors that influence wine style
    1. Conditions
    2. Growing environment
    3. Vineyard activities
    4. Winemaking
    5. Maturation
  2. Wine producing regions of the world
  3. Principal grape varieties
    1. Varieties
      1. Regionally important grape varieties
    2. Named wines
    3. Influences (climatic and winery)
    4. Style and quality
    5. Countries and regions
    6. Labeling terms
  4. Production methods of sparkling, sweet and fortified wines
    1. Production methods
    2. Countries, regions, grape varieties
    3. Labeling terms
  5. Storage, selection, and service of wine
    1. Storage
    2. Service
    3. Faults
    4. Food and wine pairing
    5. Health and safety
  6. Analytical tasting of wine
    1. Appearance
    2. Nose
    3. Palate
    4. Assessment

By looking at the categories in addition to the learning outcomes, I can decide what my learning strategy should be. Since I’m taking the Level 2 exam, this is especially helpful — however, you don’t need to take any kind of exam in order to use this information to craft your own learning approach.

While I’ll be learning about wine using the competencies laid out by the WSET, I also plan on using this approach to learn more about two wine regions that I am very interested in: Virginia and Spain.

In my next posts, I’ll share what my learning plan is to prepare for my exam as well as focus on the first of my two interests: Virginia wine.