In the first week of June I did the WSET Diploma D4 exam “Sparkling Wines”. Prior the exam I have spent a period of intensive studying and tasting sparkling wines.
The D4 exam combines two parts: theory questions and blind tasting -similar to the D5 exam Fortified Wines-. Unit 4 as well as unit 5 have 90 minutes-exam.
Both exams are strictly timed.
How does the WSET online study work?
The Sparkling Wines online course runs for 5 weeks. The course includes a D4 e-book, individual and group activities, quizzes and tasting assignments.
To be well prepared for your exam it is important to do your homework. Start studying early, at least a few weeks before your test. The benefit of good planning is to make your exam less stressful and more successful.
Every week for half an hour are chat sessions for questions to be answered by your educator. And if you have any questions coming up during the course you can always send a DM or a Chat message.
By the end of the online course there is a feedback theory test and a tasting test. Both tests give you the opportunity to see if your are ready for the exam.
The D4 theory and tasting exams are scheduled in one day.
For the tasting exam bring your glasses with you! For the D5 (Fortified Wines) I forgot to bring them with me, shame on me.
Turn off your telephone and store all your belongings in your bag and leave it in the “bag area” in the exam room.
There will be a clock or timer that counts down in seconds, minutes and hours.
In bocca al lupo! Good luck on your exam.
Exam open response questions
The open questions can be difficult. You should aim to follow the question structure and answer in sentences and linkages between the sections, rather than simply writing a bulleted list.
It is important to read the question carefully and to highlight the keywords.
Allow some time before the end of the exam to review and refine your answers.
Exam blind tasting
Another part of the exam is blind tasting. The WSET Diploma D4 exam that have three wines to be evaluated, require us to identify characteristics in the wines.
The evaluation is always based on the SAT of WSET. SAT stands for Systematic Approach of Tasting. It analyzes a wine based on appearance, smell and taste (primary, secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours) and it draws a conclusion based on these key features.
Follow up questions are included in the blind tasting exam. You must guess the style of wine and the region of origin for extra bonus points.
Result Exam D4
Now I am awaiting my results. I have no idea if I have passed the exam. Waiting is the hardest part. Every day is one step closer to the results but it seems million miles. For the results we must wait until mid August.
I just have to cross fingers and hope for a good result.
Langlois Chateau in the Loire Valley
Last May I visited a wonderful winery in the Loire Valley “Langlois Chateau”. Especially for my D4 study I decided to visit Langlois Chateau for a guided tour and tasting.
Crémant de Loire is the regional appellation for sparkling wines of Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. Loire Valley is the second largest producer of Sparkling Wines in France. The winery Langlois Chateau is located in the heart of Saumur.
In the Loire Valley you have the opportunity to visit the winery Langlois Chateau where you will learn more about the production process and its various steps.
A local guide is more than happy to welcome you as a guest.
The visit will give you an idea of how the wonderful sparkling wines are produced while you have the opportunity to taste a few glasses of Crémant de Loir Sparkling Wines.
D6 is a different module in the WSET Level 4 program because you cannot prepare this exam. You aren’t actually studying as you would for a normal WSET exam.
The unit D6 Independent Research Assignment is a 3000 word research paper, not counting the references, bibliography and so on. You must answer the questions and focus on what they ask. Each question has assigned number off points, which is important to take into account.
Each year there are two wine-related topics. On August 1st two new topics are announced. One must be submitted on January 31st and the second end of July 31.
The topic for July 2022 was “Sustainability”.
Sustainability is a new winemaking trend, it is a popular topic in the wine industry. I found this subject interesting and I decided to writing about it. And I am very happy because I liked very much to find sources and read arguments about sustainability.
I had been collecting information through the internet, interviews and the book “Social Sustainability in the Global Wine Industry”. The internet was full of interesting sources talking about sustainability!
I kept the information, quotes, references and data in one place, which helped me a lot. After my research I combined the text and information together and created my paper.
I really learned something new. More winemakers are starting to embrace sustainable farming methods, besides organic. The sustainable wine bottle is becoming more popular!
Grade D6 exam
It took me a few months to write the final paper. It wasn’t easy at all. Some find it easier than the other parts of the Diploma exams.
But I am proud that my paper was good enough for a PASS grade. Happy me 🙂
Module D5 Fortified Wines
Now I am studying for the WSET D5 exam Fortified Wines. In November I go to Portugal to taste some fabulous port wines. I can’t wait to visit the Douro valley and some wineries: Graham’s Lodge and Quinta do Bomfim.
Prowein in Düsseldorf is a hot spot full of “wine” inspiration. It is one of the most important wine and spirits fair in Central Europe. Prowein always takes place on 3 days from Sunday till Tuesday.
After two years of cancellation in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, ProWein returned to Düsseldorf on 15-17 May, 2022.
This year I have decided to visit the international wine fair again. I only had one day of the fair to spend. It was an intense day and perhaps not enough to do everything, but I enjoyed it very much.
Personally, Prowein gives me the opportunity to discover different wines and wineries of the world. For me, tasting as much as possible is fun and it the best way to learn about wines.
I started tasting wines from Trentino and I ended up with Tempranillo and Verdejo wines from Casilla y Léon. I cannot remember exactly how much different wines I have tasted but the ones I remember were wines from the New World, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.
Powerful dry wines with high tannin levels, high alcohol and fruit concentration such as Barolo and Médoc were one of my favorites!
And here are some of my favorite images I took while visiting ProWein:
Outstanding wines from Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons.
Interesting to try different California Chardonnay’s aged with oak chips in stainless steel. One Chardonnay tasted different from the next. From apples, lemons to something sweeter.
Having the opportunity to taste many Champagnes is amazing. Vintage Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006. A Champagne only made from Chardonnay grapes. Cheers!
Sicilian wines! Grillo is a widely planted Sicilian white grape. The grape is well suited to hot and dry climates. Grillo is used commonly in a variety of still white wines.
The Nero d’Avola instead is a renowned indigenous red grape variety in Sicily. The grape is also known as “Calabrese”. This grape loves heat as well, just like the Grillo. The wine has character. It is a strong and medium to full bodied red wine.
Wines from the PIWI grape varieties. Ever heard of it? I didn’t, until I met Enrico from Cantina Terre di Ger in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. PIWI grapes are fungal resistant. The wines taste good or even excellent.
The Verdejo wines from Rueda in the Castilla Y León region (Spain) are popular white wines around the world. I explored some nice wines from an organic and unique bodega.
The atmosphere at ProWein is welcoming, personable and educative. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and to talk about wine and business.
See you next year!
We are at the end of the online course DipWSET4 – D1.
It were intense weeks with lots of posts, research, questions, wine tastings and group activities.
Many projects required a lot of effort!
In the first week of our course we needed to work alone on our vineyard establishment proposal. I choose for the wine area Bolgheri in Tuscany. This is my proposal I have submitted in the first week of our wine course.
I choose the territory of Bolgheri (Livorno) along the Etruscan coast, at the foot of the gentle Tuscan hills and a few miles from the sea.
The climate along the coast in Tuscany is more maritime than central Tuscany. The summers are dry, sunny and breezy. The weather is influenced by the sea. Temperatures in winter time are around 8-10 degrees, and reach rarely zero or less.
The sea and Apennine mountains moderate the temperatures in summer period. The driest months in Tuscany are July and August.
Bolgheri Rosso DOC
Bolgheri Rosso DOC is a blend of black grape varieties. The red wine can be made in different styles. I will plant the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese.
The black grape varieties need sunlight and heat to ripen fully. The grapes do not ripen at the same time. Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese for instance. The harvest of the grapes is spread out.
Vine training system black grape varieties: cane pruned (single guyot), cordon trained. The vine’s cane and shoots are tied to the trellis for light and air circulation. Summer pruning will hardly take place as the leaves protect the berries from sunburn in (warm) summer conditions.
The soil is calcareous and contains a mix of rocks. There is a good drainage, which is important for grape growing. The altitude of the vineyards are about 100 – 400 m above sea level and the slopes are facing southwest.
The wine is full bodied with ripe red and black fruits, medium-high tannin, high acidity and high alcohol. Long aftertaste.
Suited for aging.
Super Tuscan wines have gained popularity in Italy and abroad since the 20th century. Especially the red wines. The wines are prestigious and sometimes also very expensive.
The average price for this wine is Euro 25.00*.
*average price of Sylvia Italy’s Rosso wine – not available in my shop.
Bolgheri Rosato DOC
The black grape varieties used for the rosé are Syrah, Merlot and Sangiovese. This wine is a blend and pairs good with fish dishes. For example with the local cacciucco from Livorno.
Bolgheri Bianco DOC
For a white wine from the region I will plant Vermentino grapes. Vermentino is often vinified as a single variety but can also be blended with other white grape varieties such as Trebbiano Toscano.
The vine training system for the Vermentino grapes are cane pruned (guyot). The sea has a positive influence and gives Vermentino a mineral and aromatic character.
The Vermentino wine is an appetizer wine and pairs excellent with local fish dishes.
For both young wines the average price per bottle is Euro 13.00-15.00*.
*average price of Sylvia Italy’s Bianco wine – not available in my shop.
Super Tuscan wines are produced also in other places in Tuscany, but Bolgheri is the birthplace of this wonderful wine.
Lockdown in Italy
As we all know people in Italy have been staying at home since 9 March. Schools, shops, restaurants, bars and many offices are closed. Since then I only go out for a good reason: grocery shopping. I live nearby the Conad grocery. It’s only 5 minutes walking.
Not only people but also cars are in lockdown. Like my car. The battery is low. I cannot even unlock the doors by pressing the button. Not that I have plans to drive but for getting some heavy stuff home from the supermarket a car will do well. I don’t know how to fix this problem though but every problem has a solution!
It’s a very strange and hard period. I am doing ok. At the very beginning I watched the press conference at the Rai24 station every day. Now I hardly see it anymore. For me it’s fine now to stay updated by reading some Tweet news from two Dutch journalists in Rome.
Walking in Montepulciano
The last two days I was trying to get some walks and short runs nearby my house. I am allowed to do that only if I stay 200m away from home. I have run a piece with a face mask. It’s inconvenient. You can’t get fresh air. A face mask is not for runners. But in case the police stops me I have one with me.
I haven’t been fully recovered from my knee arthroscopy. My meniscus was very bad damaged because of the runnings. As doctor Ceppi told me so. I do my exercises every day to develop my leg muscles. It helps but it takes much longer to be back to my previous running shape. I guess..
Risotto agli asparagi
I didn’t stop tasting wines and eating good food during the lockdown. Honestly since we are at home I prepare more often delightful dishes for myself.
I am not disappointed about my cooking! But I am always struggling with a good Carbonara… any tip?
Risotto agli asparagi
And yes I have good wines in my wine cellar. There’s no day without a good glass of wine. I do not only drink Sangiovese wines. As you might know Tuscany is known for it’s Sangiovese based wines.
Poggio alla Sala “il Parceto”
To improve my palate I recently purchased some nice wines from winery Piandaccoli in Florence. They make excellent Chardonnay-Malvasia and Rosé wines. These wines pair well with fish dishes, antipasti and pasta.
@ Home in Montepulciano
In Holland we say every disadvantage has it’s vantage. That’s true. I got to know new neighbors since I am at home. They are lovely people. We got friends. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to have a dinner or an appetizer with them. Hopefully soon!
I also started studying my WSET level 3 wine exam. Every time when I read new things about wine I realize that I love the world of wines. It is interesting to discover new wines from all over the world.
Knowing more about different grape varieties, how wines are made and how they might taste. I hope to be well prepared for the upcoming lessons and wine tastings.
WSET study level 3
And the good news is, I am working on a new wine project. A friend of mine suggested me to realize a new wine adventure now the tourism in Tuscany is shut down.
An awesome idea! It is a lot of work, but I like it. I see this as a new career opportunity for myself with a lot of possibilities for Sylvia Italy in the nearby future.
Vasco Rosso wines from Tenuta Pian delle Ginestre