Translating for the wine industry: my WSET course experience
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Hi there, I’m Jessica.
Welcome to my very first blog, which is all about one of my favourite niches: the wine industry.
I recently decided to take the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Award in Wines, and I’m here to share why I decided to take the plunge and some of what I’ve learnt so far.
The wine industry and me
Wine is nothing new. It’s been produced and drunk for millennia. It’s mentioned in both the Torah and the Bible.
The Romans made a sweet, fragrant wine by adding herbs and honey to fermented grape juice. Romans wanting some home comforts while out there building the Roman Empire took vines and winemaking know-how to most areas they conquered.
The use of wine in Jewish and Christian ceremonies meant that producing wine remained important after the fall of the Roman Empire. It’s also been served in homes, taverns, public houses, mansions, palaces, etc. right up until the modern day. Many of us are still partial to a glass or two of an evening.
Since becoming a freelance translator and editor, I’ve been enjoying working on projects related to wine and winemaking.
Learning about and using specific vocabulary related to wine has been a fascinating learning curve, and I love the fact that some projects even allow me to get a bit creative.
With more projects related to wine coming my way, I decided it was time to dig a little deeper and explore wine and the winemaking process. So, in May I started the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 2 Award in Wines as the next step on my professional development journey.
The knowledge I need to provide top-quality translations for the wine industry
Many of us know some of the terms used around wine such as “full-bodied” and “with notes from oak” but we don't know why wine has these properties. The WSET course means that’s no longer a mystery to me.
It also looks at vine cultivation and discusses the different elements that a vine needs to grow and produce grapes that are good for winemaking.
Have you ever wondered why wine is produced in certain countries?
You’ll see bottles of wine coming from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia, the USA, and Chile to name but a few. But you’re unlikely to find a wine produced in India, Guatemala, Columbia, Madagascar or Papua New Guinea.
That’s because these countries lie outside of the latitude where vines like to grow. In case you’re wondering, you’ll find most wine is produced from vineyards with a latitude between 30˚ and 50˚ north and south of the equator.
Of course, a highlight of any wine course is the wine tasting. I’m finding gaining an understanding of the subtleties of the taste of wine to be fascinating.
For example, for the module covering red wines, I tasted two red wines at either end of the tannin spectrum.
I tasted a light Beaujolais which was high in acidity and low in tannins. I compared that to a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon which was high in acidity and tannins.
This exercise underlined the difference between the two wines, showing just what “full-bodied” means for a red. Tannins are found in grape skins and are what creates that drying effect in your mouth when drinking red wine.
The course also covers food pairing which was an added bonus for me as I have a life-long love of cooking and baking.
I grew up watching Saturday morning cooking programmes to see what recipes I could discover. On some of them, the chef would prepare a meal and then there would be a segment where a wine expert would select a wine to accompany the dish from a supermarket.
The experts would talk about why the wine was a great match for the dish, often mentioning how different elements of the palate would complement the food.
I wanted to know more so I could better understand why a particular type of wine is the perfect pair for a certain type of dish. And now I do!
At the time of publishing this post, I’m just over halfway through the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and I’m looking forward to learning even more in the second half.
One module is about fortified wines, and I’m intrigued to find out how they’re made.
If you have any questions about this course specifically or about my translation services for the wine industry in general, I’d love to hear from you. You can find my contact form here.