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July 13, 2015

Shit Just Got Real!

Let’s get one thing straight: yes I write a wine blog and yes I swear. Sometimes with wine we tend to be too fussy or fancy about it and take ourselves too seriously. I’m not that girl. Yes, I can drop some serious wine knowledge, but that doesn’t make me any better than a casual drinker. In my eyes, wine is democratic. The next SOMMspirations post (on Wednesday) delves deeper into this idea of mine.

After completing the first WSET L4 class yesterday (which was really an introduction to the course), the word that comes to mind is: humility. I have taken on a HUGE commitment with this class. Thus far, 85 students have attempted to pass the Level 4 class in LA with my instructor, Monica. Quite a few people drop out early on, as they realize the time commitment necessary. Also, sometimes life changes didn’t allow them to maintain that same level of commitment. Of those 85 students, she estimates only about 50 have stayed fully committed in the program. Of the 50 serious students, only 4 have gone on to pass all 6 units required to get a L4 Diploma Certificate from the WSET. So we’re talking about a 5% pass rate from those original 85 students. Today when I sat down today at 10am, there were 18 of us (7 women and 11 men). Assuming the statistics, that would mean that about 1 of us will pass and earn the Diploma Level certificate. Who will it be? The guy what has 15 years experience in the biz? Or the gal who has worked for distributors, wineries, and auction houses? Or will it be me? I poured wine at a wine bar for about 2 years. That’s the extent of my professional wine experience, which pales in comparison to most of my classmates. But I am not going to look at that as a handicap. I’m eager, smart, tenacious, and focused as hell. I can easily say that this will be the most challenging academic endeavor I have ever taken on (and I have an MBA!).

Here’s the skinny on what’s in store. Classes go until June 2017. In that time, I will have to complete all 6 units in the Level 4 curriculum. They actually give you an extra year (3 years in total), in the event that you have to re-sit any of the exams. The breakdown is below:

Unit 2-Wine Production (Exam: August 23, 2015)

Unit 1-The Global Biz of Alcoholic Beverages (Exam: Nov 4, 2015)

Unit 5-Sparkling Wines of the World (Exam: November 4, 2015)

Unit 4-Spirits of the World (Exam: March 2016)

Unit 6-Fortified wines of the World (Exam June 2016)

Unit 3-Light Wines of the World (Exam: June 2017)

Handed to me yesterday was a 4-inch thick packet of textbooks and study materials. In those materials we reviewed the WSET “Learning Hours” guidelines in which they give you suggestions on how many hours of studying to dedicate to each unit. The first unit we’re taking on is Wine Production (Unit 2) that includes viticulture, vinification, and maturation/treatments/bottling. Between now and the exam on August 23, I will need to put in 60 hours of study time, or about 10 hours per week. Yowzas!

Which brings me back to the title of this post. Shit just got real! That might be all I have to share today, as my mind is spinning. There is a lot for me to digest, so allow me to go back to the books. I’ll share more with you as I go!

In a week, we have our first full class with guest speaker, Sashi Moorman, a winemaker on the Central Coast of California. Stay tuned for more SOMMspirations…….

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re looking to Up Your Wine Game and Drink Better, consider booking a private in-person or virtual wine tasting experience.
Brianne Cohen Wine Educator
Brianne Cohen is a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier, wine educator, consultant, and writer.

Brianne has educated and entertained over 10,000 people through her in-person and virtual wine tasting experiences.

Brianne holds the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Diploma certificate, one of the most coveted wine certifications in the world. When she’s not helping people Up Their Wine Game, she can be found judging at international wine competitions

Brianne aims to make wine approachable and conversational, to surprise and delight with unexpected wine finds, and to give people knowledge (and confidence) about wine in their everyday lives.

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Sample Policy

As a wine writer, I frequently accept samples for review on my  website and on my social media channels. Please contact me at to discuss sending samples for review. I promise to always be honorable with the samples. I will evaluate all wines in good tasting settings and with no distractions.

All reviews are my opinions, and mine only. Because of the volume of samples I receive, I cannot promise that all samples received will be reviewed, but I will do my best.

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