Did you guys know that there is columns of WSET write up on Decanter? Neither did I. I never really thought much about writing about my class experience so far but seeing as I just finished my classes last week, here are my thoughts on them.
I started with Level 1, which in hindsight, being a semi regular wine drinker and having worked at a vineyard, was a COMPLETE waste of time. Yes please do not bother.
As for Level 2, I do think my knowledge substantially increased and it went a long long way in shaping how I was able to articulate certain tastes (I am terrible) and discovering new favourites. In Hong Kong, you are not at all starved for options regarding WSET schools. I went to AWSEC in Sheung Wan, which I think is absolutely fantastic. The facilities are great, the staff nice, the instructors insanely knowledgeable; you feel that you are in very capable hands.
I took Friday night classes for Level 1 and for Level 2, weekend intensive courses. Friday night classes were fine as I was unemployed and so was Level 2 weekend ones initially. The past two Saturdays however I had to go back into the office to be trained on their software and thus it made the hours of class afterwards extremely taxing. It felt like running on a marathon that I did not sign up on. The instructor often ran way over but it did not feel like a waste of time (I were among the many that asked countless of questions).
I am not going to talk much about Level 1 because it was honestly a waste of time. Level 2 was very well structured, though I did think it was weird that they started on wine pairings and processes of making still wine BEFORE talking about the varietals and regions. The curriculum is solid in that it went over all the big noble grape varieties of famous wine regions around the world. We had parallel wine tastings that reflected the different varietals and terroirs we were learning. The last class was focused on fortified wines such as port and sherry, sparkling and spirits. The last class ended up lasting as much as 7 hours (see the evidence above) and in the last hour, instead of spitting obediently in the spittoon, I chugged it all.
I thought Level 2 was very worthwhile, even though my primary motivations to do the course in the first place was for professional reasons. Unfortunately my exam clashes with work, so I have to reschedule for a much later date. Hopefully I will still retain a decent amount and only have to do a minimal amount of review. I really recommend wine enthusiasts to take the class, as it is 1) truly interesting, 2) taste a HUGE variety of wine in a short amount of time that you won't be able to do on your own (your liver will thank you) and 3) meet other wine lovers and potential new contacts for your network, which is an all around win win.
As much as I would love to hop onto level 3 right away, I am giving myself some breathing space with regards to class and my job. The new job is very intense and demanding. I am learning a lot and I am very grateful to all my colleagues who take time out of their day to answer questions. I taste a lot of wine at work anyway after hours (one of the perks) so I think it's fine if I put level 3 on hold for now (hopefully not for too long though, will finish it before end of year).