3 Ways I Studied for WSET D1
I received some good news this past week, which is that I passed my first WSET exam (Viticulture and Vinification) with Distinction! It's especially surprising given that the exam was the day before we went live with our new back end system at work; it's the biggest project I've managed, and I was working evenings and weekends for at least a month before go-live. I had to squeeze in mini study sessions while waiting for test data to upload, and spent my free time telling my (not hugely interested but very patient) fiancé about all the different types of wine presses.
Study Tip 1: Everything is Connected
Sure, I made tons and tons of flashcards, but one of the most useful study exercises I did was to take different scenarios (a super-premium red wine selling at a luxury pricepoint, an entry level white wine meant to be drunk right away, etc) and walk through every single step and decision that the winemaker would need to make during the process of making the wine. It really helped me consider why the things we were learning in the viticulture section were actually important in the resulting wine. Learning the why of everything made it much easier to remember than just memorizing facts!
Study Tip 2: Go over each section more than once
I wish I'd started studying in earnest even earlier than I did, even though it turned out fine in the end! But at the end of the day, anything I tried to cram at the last minute is now completely forgotten, while I do remember the things I started studying early on. I think this is because I went over those things multiple times, and each time I went through a section, I retained more details. It's a huge amount of information, and no one is going to be able to remember everything after reading it only once. One thing I also realized fairly late in the game is that I needed to know a lot more detail than I was originally trying to learn. I had assumed they wanted the broad strokes; if I understood the general concept, I'd be fine. But after the mock exam, I realized I needed to step up my game!
Study Tip 3: Read outside sources
I think some of my classmates were much better about reading outside material that tied in to our coursework, and I wish I had done more. Sometimes if I was having a hard time getting a concept or a fact to stick, I did some googling around to see if I could find a source that explained it better than the WSET book. In particular, I've never been very clear on why sprinklers help protect from frost, but I did some searching online and found some really good explanations!