How critics and educators are working during coronavirus lockdown

WSET courses with DB’s Man of the Year Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith has worked in the wine trade for more than 15 years. He won the Man of the Year prize at our Drinks Business Awards in May 2019, and has also been named Wine Scholar Guild Italian Wine Educator of the Year 2018. He is the founder and owner of West London Wine School, which has educated over 1,600 students through the WSET Level 1, Level 2 (intermediate) and Level 3 (advanced) certificates, and owns boutique bar Streatham Wine House in south London.

Now, the school offers online-only WSET classes, streaming courses that offer an in-depth look at the history of wine online, and interviewing winemakers all over the world.

“Up until recently, we believed that in-person classes was the only way that we could provide tastings and courses to students that truly embodied our ethos,” Smith told db.

Now, his school is running tastings and seminars online to keep his class up to date with their studies, and selling wine cases alongside them to cater for students who wish to brush up on their tasting notes.



Students can take online versions of WSET Level 1 and 2 Award in Wines through West London Wine School, and Smith’s team are currently working on adapting Level 3 to a digital format.

L1 and L2 will run over three and eight weeks respectively. Students will join a virtual classroom with a West London Wine School tutor each week and there will also be ‘office hours’ Q&A.

The online WSET courses start at £115 for Level 1, while Level 2 costs £285. Find out about these here.

Deep dives

As well as this, Smith is also hosting a series of digital lectures and workshops, including six-week courses on the History of Wine, Tour de France, and a tour of Italy, with one on Spain due to launch soon.

“We have created a 12 bottle case of wine for each of these to supplement the learning and taste two each week,” he said.

Smith is also streaming 45-minute long interviews with winemakers from around the world to showcase their wares and offer an insight into the day-to-day runnings of a winery.  “It’s not just purely the tasting; there’s much about the winery itself, the location, the history, terroir, climate, etc etc – all the information you would expect in a wine tasting.”

Homebound oenophiles can order a curated 6-bottle case of wines brought up in the winemaker seminars, “and three are tasted each evening,” he said, although given the circumstances, they’re not considered compulsory. “Due to smaller tasting samples being unavailable, the actual ‘tasting’ element is supplemental,” Smith said.

“Yes, tasting the wine is a huge draw for many who attend, however it is not the only reason people come to us. We specifically design each session to only cover 2-3 wines maximum, so if anyone wants to taste along in the moment, they are not committing to opening 7+ wines.”

You can find out more about West London Wine School’s online courses here.

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