Tag Archives: Training

What does the WSET Diploma really look like?

24 wine enthusiasts gather in a classroom in London. Armed with notepads, 12 tasting glasses and a passion for all things wine they are embarking on an in-depth exploration of the world of wine: the WSET Diploma in Wines. After graduating from Plumpton College, Hallgarten & Novum Wines Marketing Coordinator recently embarked on her fourth level of WSET qualification – below she takes a look at it from behind the tasting glass.

 

The assembled band of 24 students glance around furtively, looking, intrigued at the classmates they will spend over 120 hours and nearly 2 years studying with. All have the same aim: to achieve WSET’s ‘flagship’ qualification, the final and most challenging course they offer. Despite such a specific goal the group is diverse, a range of ages and backgrounds, those already working in the wine trade, those who hope to and dedicated consumer enthusiasts. We leave that first introductory class both daunted and excited, eager to join nearly 10,000 Diploma graduates from around the world.

But what drives an ever increasing numbers of WSET diploma students and why is this important to the wine trade?

In 2018/19, celebrating its 50th year, WSET saw a 15% year on year increase in students, more than 20,000 of them in the UK. For those in, or hoping to be in the wine trade there are some clear benefits to achieving such well recognised and respected qualifications. The Diploma in particular is known by employers to be rigorous, demanding knowledge and commitment. Given the complex and ever-changing nature of wine having a high level of wine education can be very appealing to those working in the trade, giving them a greater understanding of such a huge topic.

Both employee and employer stand to benefit. Qualified staff can ensure customers perceive a business as knowledgeable and trustworthy. In addition, having wine educated employees enhances the customer experience which can boost sales. Wine knowledge is communicated to the customer and research proves customers with some level of wine education spend more. For the consumer in both the on and off trade, wine buying, like any purchase, has a level of risk and for more expensive wines the risk increases. Education can alleviate this and increase customer spend.

Conversely, this increase in demand and uptake of consumer wine education means staff in the trade need increasingly high levels of knowledge to meet the needs of their ever more savvy customers. The story and provenance behind wine has become more and more important to the consumer in recent years, increased wine education amongst staff means they are well equipped to impart plenty of information to the customer. Furthermore, staff who have all studied tasting through one standard approach can give consistency to the way they evaluate wine and as such enable them to describe wine to customers with clarity.

Qualifications like the diploma can benefit both wine trade professionals and their consumers. Providing employees with confidence to talk in detail about all aspects of wine means they can pass forward this knowledge to customers, putting them at ease and potentially enabling them to be more adventurous in their wine selection.

On the road with the training team…

This week we have been on the road with Garry Samuels, the newest member of Hallgarten’s training team. Garry has experienced many jobs in hospitality, from kitchen porter, to deputy manager, and through this experience he discovered his love of wine and educating those in the trade.

 

A week way out west with Garry… if you live in the east
  • Travel days: 4✔️
  • Towns/Cities: 4
  • Miles covered: 566
  • Venues Visited: 6
  • Team Trained: 68

Okay, so not an average week in the life of an educator and wine product trainer, but not far off. With customers to teach, spread from Torquay to Nottingham, sometimes you just have to pack your bag and spend some time on the road.

One of the main challenges I am often faced with, and was apparent on this trip, is the ability to quickly bounce between the educational needs of one group to those of another, for instance:

Venue one
Question: What’s your most popular wine?
Answer: Marlborough Sauvignon.

Venue two
Question: What’s your most popular wine?
Answer: Vodka, Red Bull

This really demonstrates the importance of training reflecting both the team members needs and the customer demands – just delivering the same two hour session every time simply does not cut it.  My project of late has been to centre training around wines sold by the bottle. Many front of house team members simply never have a chance to try these, so how do we expect them to sell them, more so if they are long, complex, unpronounceable foreign words… like Mâcon!

Other questions I always ask but are rarely answered correctly:

  • What does dry mean?
  • How many different types of Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc do you have on your wine list?
  • What wines work best with your spicy dishes? (Answer: IPA, obviously!)

So there is a large element of repetition to the job, addressing the foundation knowledge all the team should have, and yes, there is great opportunity to vary the delivery to make sure the training has the most impact on those it is aimed at, new or experienced.  And how do we know we have made a positive difference?  Responses like; “I NEVER KNEW THAT!!!”, “I don’t like wine but that’s really nice” and “When are you visiting next?”.

But don’t take my word for the importance of training, here’s what one of the students thought:

“Garry’s wine training gave my team the confidence to really sell our wines to customers, learning in-depth descriptions of the wines palates and the perfect food pairings for each wine. He engages well with the team and his clear passion for wine helps to motivate the team and make them want to be passionate about wine too, his friendly personality makes you feel at ease to ask questions about anything in the world of wine! The training has certainly helped improve my wine selling skills and I now feel more confident to upsell our higher quality wines to guests.”

 

As an Approved Programme Provider, our four WSET-Certified Educators have guided more than 300 students through WSET courses and our own Wine Sure programme. Contact your account manager for more information.

What are the training team drinking this festive season?

The training team, led by MW Beverly Tabbron, has put their heads together to suggest a few festive tipples perfect for the party season to serve over Christmas.

To kick off the meal:

Aromatic whites such as Ktima Gerovassiliou, Viogner 2016 or Tandem, Inmácula Viognier Viura 2015 are fantastic as an aperitif to get the party going.

For for those who prefer a zestier style, a standout option is the critically acclaimed Gaia Wines, Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2016 or the Hiruzta, Berezia Txakoli 2016!

For the main course:

When choosing reds stick with lighter styles such as; Tandem, Ars Nova 2013Michele Chiarlo, 6 Mesi Le Orme, Barbera d’Asti 2015 or a classic Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

If the meal requires a moreish fruity style of wine, the Colomba Bianca, Vitese Syrah 2016 would tick the box.

To finish:

Treat yourself to a glass of Tramin, Terminum Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2014 – concentrated and intense with flavours of mango and lychee – or Roccolo Grassi, La Broia, Recioto di Soave 2014 – rich and honied, Christmas pud in a glass.