Wine, says hospitality and tourism management professor Bruce McAdams, is incredibly complex. “There are so many types and styles. It can be very confusing.” But there is a method to sort out the madness of wine, and it will soon be available at U of G.
The method is what’s taught in courses under the auspices of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), recognized around the world as a leading authority. Level 1 will be offered on Sept. 29 and 30 (two four-hour sessions over a weekend) and Level 2 will be offered as 10 evening classes beginning Sept. 24. The courses will also be offered in the winter semester.
McAdams has taken the Level 1 and Level 2 courses and found that “the biggest benefit for me was learning a structured approach to tasting and evaluating wine. You need to organize your thoughts and senses to understand what you are tasting, and it helps you know why you enjoy some wines and not others.” It can even save you money: when you know what appeals to you, you can look for the most economical choices that still meet your criteria.
McAdams then continued his wine education to become a first-level sommelier (wine expert). This year, he filled in for Prof. Joe Barth, who was on sabbatical, and taught a course on wine for fourth-year students. “We’ve noticed that the demand for the wine course is always very high,” he says. “We decided it would be worth applying to teach the WSET courses, so that students would have the opportunity to add a widely-recognized accreditation to their resumes.”
With the application approved, McAdams then needed to find a qualified teacher. He was delighted to get William Predhomme, senior sommelier at Canoe Restaurant. Predhomme was named Ontario sommelier of the year in 2011, has just passed the advanced level examination to become a master sommelier, and is known as one of Canada’s leading wine experts and educators. McAdams promises that Predhomme also makes classes a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, professors McAdams and Barth plan to become qualified to teach the WSET courses in the future. They also hope to eventually incorporate these courses into the current curriculum and offer more WSET courses if these go well.
The first level course, according to McAdams, will be geared towards people who enjoy wine and want an introduction to tasting techniques, wine styles, grape varieties and growing regions, and matching food with wine. No prerequisites are needed, and students will complete a short test at the end to receive a certificate.
The second level course is more in-depth, with wine tasting every week. “You’ll work on building a solid foundation in tasting and evaluating wines, and will learn more about matching the right wine with your meal,” says McAdams. There are no prerequisites for this course either, and a test must be passed before the student receives a certificate.
“One thing that impresses me about the WSET courses is the quality of their textbooks and other course materials,” says McAdams. “It’s cutting-edge, world-class information.”
The courses are open to the general public as well as students; hospitality and tourism management students, as well as U of G alumni, staff and faculty will receive a 10 per cent discount. Each class has 30 spaces available and McAdams expects them to fill up quickly. To register, visit www.htm.uoguelph.ca/wset.