On the Road to WSET 3

Even though it’s nearly six weeks before I’ll be taking the WSET 3 exam, I feel as panicked as any student who waited until the LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE to begin cramming. I don’t know why I feel that way; after all, I passed the WSET 2 with **ahem** Distinction.

Wine Goddess, Intermediate Level.

WSET 3 is Advanced. So why am I shaking like someone who can barely spell Napa? As The Wineaux Guy™ told me, “you know this.” And that’s true. At least in theory.

There are a couple of things that make Level 3 so much more terrifying (to me) than the previous level.

  1. Tasting with complex notes but not giving a final evaluation. The theory is that anyone reading your notes should be able to match what you write to the actual wine. And, yes, the judges will have the same wine. The judges are located in London. Whyyyyy?!?
  2. More maps than was ever intended for humankind to know. Cartography and/or Geography were never my strong suits. Argh!

That said, I’ve dived in with both slightly flat and calloused feet.  Here we go.

Remembering how to do the notes is challenging enough, if for no other reason than they’re quite different from the notes requirements of the Guild of Sommeliers. I actually have to write stuff out following a certain format. I have no problem with writing. It’s the remembering of what to write that may be the issue.

Panicked much?

I’m taking the online course from Napa Valley Wine Academy which requires an amazing amount of self-discipline, which has always been sketchy for me at best. Students are required to calibrate their tasting with the instructor. The advantage is that when you are actually writing your notes, you will know what is expected in a certain wine or region. You’re benchmarking, more or less.

This is where Coravin and Condoms come in. No NSFW pun intended.

I’ve already discussed Coravin. For this study period, I’m using Coravin on my “better” wines, such as my Siduri, Williams-Selyem, or Barolo wines. I will also use the Coravin on my richer wines, such as Turley Zin, Stags Leap Cabs, and others in my why-did-I-spend-so-much-money wine fridge. Coravin is made for extended preservation which is great for these styles of wine which I simply refuse to try to drink a whole bottle on my own. Or that will be ruined if I’m just needing a tasting pour. Or two.

The Wine Condoms are a cute way to preserve wines that you’re going to drink over a very short period of time. For instance, uncorking a bottle and using Wine Condoms, knowing that you will be finishing the bottle within a day or two. A week at the most.

Both methods are perfect for me.

Wine Condoms say that they’re suitable for all kinds of wine, still and sparkling, and beer.


Condom sleeved
Condom on bottle

I placed a Wine Condom over the neck of a bottle of vintage ale. It was a Trader Joe’s 2014 Vintage Ale which they release over the holidays. Kinda like a spiced Guinness. Delicious!

I used the Condom because I was going to sip the ale and get another glass later before placing it in the regular fridge for storage until the following evening.

Well, that didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. I had brown foam all over the ceiling because the Condom got filled up with the gasses (is that right?) from the ale and jettisoned into the ceiling, taking lots of vintage ale with it.

If you must know, my house is in an older community and has low ceilings. With some of my kitchen “experiments” failing, um, **explosively** at times, it is dotted with residue from past calamities. For this particular cleanup, it only required standing on a stepstool and wiping the newest disaster away. No biggie. I’ll probably have to paint next year.

But I digress.

Wine Condoms

Wine Condoms
Wine Condoms

They’re a clever gimmick that actually works, surprisingly. They come (sorry) packaged in foil packets like the actual ones which make it fun.

The differences that the Wine Condoms are made of a heavier, opaque rubber (sorry) that roll over the neck of the bottle. If you’ve used actual condoms (and if not, why not?!?) then you already know to use them. Short-term preservation perfection as far as I’m concerned.

And, unlike the “real” ones, they’re reusable! For a while, anyway.

While the double entendres and puns are cringingly delightful, they work perfectly. Try opening one in front of company and rolling it over an open bottle. Let’s just say that it is a conversation starter! Just remember that if you use them on sparkling wine or beer, you do so at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

So these are the storage methods I’ll be using while on my WSET 3 journey. If I ghost for extended periods of time for the next few weeks, that’s why.

Blearily yours,

Click to Buy!

Thanks to Wine Condoms for the sample. I’m now a customer! Remember that each purchase from this link won’t cost you any more and will help support the costs of this site.


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