Nervous about your WSET Diploma D3 tasting exam? Yeah, me too. Kind of. The best advice I can give is to remember that the tasting portion of the exam is exactly like the theory part of the exam—but instead of written prompts, they’re presenting you with wines.
If you’ve made it to the Diploma level of the WSET, that means you have a pretty strong palate and have practiced writing tasting notes utilizing the SAT grid already. So trust yourself, trust your notes, and use what you see, smell, taste, and have written down to answer the proposed question(s).
Easier said than done. But let’s put this into practice using one of the very first regions you study in D3—Burgundy. You don’t have to taste along—instead, I encourage you to write a few dry tasting notes (following the grid and SAT format) for the wines listed. Then, take a look at the theory questions I’ve created and see if you can answer those based on both your knowledge of the region(s) and using your tasting notes as evidence to back up your answer.
At the very end, I’ve listed my tasting notes and conclusions about the wines (which I did, indeed, taste). And if you feel so inclined, post a few bullet points about how you’d answer these theory questions. The more we interact the more we remember.
I know that the tasting portion of the D3 WSET Diploma Exam can be one of the most intimidating. Indeed, when I took my Level 3, my nerves overtook my tastebuds, and I found myself second guessing my tasting notes the whole time. To help me gain more skill and confidence in those skills, I’ve been taking some tasting classes geared toward WSET Diploma with a Master in Wine in preparation for my exam. And I recently had my partner help me with a blind tasting mock exam, which I’d like to share here.
The goal is to help those of us who are preparing the WSET exams key in on wine evaluation (following the SAT guidelines) as well as how to correctly draw conclusions about the wines tasted and communicate the justification for those conclusions.
Following the WSET taste testing format:
Wines 1–3 relate to Unit D3 of the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines All are made from the same region. Describe them under the headings below.
Follow along on my tasting notes and see if you can figure out what the common region of origin is. Note: This exam also, for two points, asks examiners to determine the grape variety (but not qualify that determination). I’ve included my deduction in each tasting note below. However, I’ll leave the wine reveals to the very end of the post. Good luck and have fun!
I’ve gotten some feedback that many folks studying for the D3 WSET Diploma Exam are interested in calibrating their palates and practicing their tasting and note-taking techniques. Those of you who are preparing (or have taken) the WSET exams know that there are very strict criteria about how how to evaluate the wines (following the SAT guidelines) but also about how to correctly draw conclusions about the wines you’re tasting and how to communicate those conclusions.
I’ve been taking some tasting classes geared toward WSET Diploma with a Master in Wine in preparation for my exam. Over the holiday, I thought it would be fun to have my partner help me with a blind tasting mock exam.
Following the WSET taste testing format:
Wines 1–3 relate to Unit D3 of the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines All are made from the same or predominantly the same grape variety. Describe them under the headings below.
Follow along on my tasting notes and see if you can figure out what the common grape variety is. Note: This exam also, for two points, asks examiners to determine the country of origin for the wine (but not qualify that determination). I’ve included my deduction in each tasting note below. However, I’ll leave the wine reveals to the very end of the post. Good luck and have fun!
Here comes the fun part of every regional focus—the tasting. As always, make sure to read through the Rhone Valley Overview, Northern Rhone, and Southern Rhone articles before jumping in here. It’ll help put all the tasting and technical notes into perspective.
Larger and more spread out than the Northern Rhone, there’s no denying that we’re going to cover a good bit of detail here. With its varied terroir, the Southern Rhone comes with a larger variety of grapes grown and wine produced—good news if you want a diversified tasting experience. Indeed, most wines here are blends—red, white, and rosé, though red undeniably dominates. And, as The Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Edition) notes, though some winemakers do experiment with Syrah (the dominant grape of the Northern Rhone), here in the south, it’s far too warm for the grape to “ripen gracefully.” Thus, it is Grenache—at over double the planting—that is the Southern Rhone‘s most planted red wine grape.