4 Brand New MW’s

Congratulations to the 4 New MW’s who were awarded their letters today!

I know first hand how tough the programme is and am always delighted to hear of those that have successfully completed it.

The Master of Wine qualification is the ultimate wine qualification for the wine trade and requires application of the key characteristics of learning: knowledge, skills, experience and perhaps most importantly attitude!

These guys have all done it! 🙌🙌🙌🙌

Full details here …

New Masters of Wine!

IT’S PANCAKE DAY – er, well it was yesterday!

Woop, it’s Pancake Day. I woke up thinking about pancakes & probably won’t stop until Mr B has made me his crepes suzette this evening … (update: actually he didn’t in the end 😕).

… the best wines to pair with pancakes really depends on the filling but here are some of my favourites …

  1. The classic, lemon and sugar

Suggested recipe BBC Good Food

Try a Coteaux du Layon, the sweet Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France, super ripe grapes, sometimes botrytis, sometimes dried, this wines tart appley acidity will match the sweetness of the sugar and the acidity of the lemon beautifully.

Suggested wine: Domaine des Baumard Coteaux du Layon

2) Bananas and nuts

Suggested recipe: BBC Good Food

I love sweet Pinot Gris, the fruit can be quite exotic but it takes on a spicy and nutty note and that gives it a lovely savoury edge. Acidity not so high in this wine but that’s fine to pair with the bananas. Sadly not that widely available but worth the extra work to get hold of a bottle.

Suggested wine: Rolly Gassmann Pinot Gris SGN

3) Apples, pear and cinammon

Suggested recipe: BBC Good Food

Actually this would work with the Coteaux du Layon too but Tokaji has more intense botrytis (fruit peel, barley sugar and saffron spice) and higher acidity (because of the Furmint base wine), go for 5 Puttonyos to get the sweetness level right.

Suggested wine: Oremus Tokay 5 Putts

4) Chocolate and banana

Suggested Recipe: BBC Good Food

When it comes to chocolate I prefer to contrast flavours rather than match them. Chocolate can be rich, so for me a fruitier contrast works better. Muscat is very fruity, raisins, sultanas and these fortified and slightly oxidised, Liqueur Muscat’s from Australia take on brown sugar and honey notes that compliment both the chocolate and the banana.

Suggested wine: Campbells Liqueur Muscat

5) Rhubarb (omg why I have I never thought about putting rhubarb in a pancake before?)

Suggested recipe: BBC Good Food

Straight to Riesling with this one. A wine that’s high in acidity to match with the tart crispness of the Rhubarb. Germany, France, Austria and Canada all make great sweet Riesling but I like the sound of this one from New Zealand.

Suggested wine: Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling

and finally the ultimate pancake …

6) Crepes Suzette

Suggested Recipe: BBC Good Food

with the ultimate wine, Sauternes, nobley rotted Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from France that takes on a delicious orange peel and marmalade note. Nice.

Suggested wine: Chateau Briatte Sauternes

… Maybe I’ll get my pancakes tonight?

The WSET Examination – how to prepare

I get as nervous as my students when it comes to exam time. They all work so hard and I just want them to do their best and show the examiner why they deserve to be given their wine qualifications. So I have the following revision advice to help them fully prepare:

Revision is an ongoing process, not something you should be doing the week before the exam, here are some of my favourite techniques and exercise:

Record cards are among my favourite tools, they cost about £3 a pack from a good stationers and are incredibly useful.

  1. Write a question on the front, the answer on the back create a whole deck per chapter of text and go through them, over and over until you’ve learnt them all.
  2. They are also great for learning flow charts (gin production for example). Write each step of the process on a card, mix them up and then spend a few minutes putting them back in the right order. Keep doing it until you do it in your sleep!
  3. One thing I know many students find difficult is remembering wine names and grape varieties (particularly in Italy!), use your record cards to help. Write the wine name on one card (Barolo), the grape variety (Nebbiolo) on another, mix them, then match them.

Alternatively use the Chegg Flashcards app then you can easily carry your questions with you and use them whenever you have a spare 5 minutes!

Mindmaps are an excellent way of recording notes an organising your thoughts particularly if you’re a visual kind of person. Use flipchart paper (that way you get everything on one sheet) or the Inspiration app on your tablet write the topic in the middle. Chardonnay for example. Draw a circle around it, or if you’re a little bit arty you could draw a grape.  Then draw lines, like the spokes of a bicyle wheel that lead to more bubbles with facts that you need to remember about Chardonnay. Take the flavours of Chardonnay for example. It could look something like this …

Wine Study Skills Chardonnay Mind Map

Re-draw it, refine it and soon you’ll have remembered all the information on it!

Multiple choice questions are used in the WSET exams so why not write your own. This is such an excellent revision tool that I wrote a whole blog post on it click here. Or, trawl the internet for quizzes that have already been created, like the WSET Level 2 quiz from Decanter magazine. I also found this one …


Another great tool is the WSET Knowledge Centre click here and in particular their 3 minute wine school and 3 minute spirit school series.

However you choose to revise don’t overdo it, only let yourself study for 40 minutes at a time, then stop and have a cup of tea, look out the window, go for a quick walk. Breaking regularly will keep you fresh and focussed!

And my final piece of advice …

Keep calm and remember your SAT

Clare Bassan, WSET L3 Graduate

“Having done my Level 2 online I decided to take my Level 3 in person and they could not have been more different. Being able to meet and discuss and taste wines on a weekly basis was fantastic. I found Claire’s teaching method incredibly informative and  enthusiastic within a nicely relaxed approach. The support I received in our weekly sessions and the feedback from my assignments gave me a great understanding, enabling me to go into the exam and gain a Distinction. More importantly she gave me the confidence in my own knowledge. I have now got a job working in the wine trade and an studying for my WSET L4 Diploma”

Clare Bassan, WSET L3 Graduate

James Mackenzie, Monachyle Mhor Hotel

“At Monachyle Mhor Hotel, we are huge believers in the need to invest in our staff in order to continue the upward trajectory of a flourishing Scottish hospitality industry. Our close work with Claire Blackler has been nothing short of a complete success for us and our staff. The flexibility of the services offered by Claire has been of great help in allowing us to utilise the training to its maximum. Our staff have benefited hugely from the skill and attention to detail delivered by  Claire and her tutors, resulting in many of our team discovering a passion for wines and spirits that they never knew they had.

Our work with Claire has resulted in increased employee retention, happier staff and, most importantly, increased profits. I cannot recommend Claire Blackler highly enough and look forward to continuing our work with her in the future”

James Mackenzie, Hotel Manager, Monachyle Mhor Hotel

Jo Radford, Timberyard

“Having had a number of staff taught by Claire at Case Studies Wine School it is clear to see the benefits Timberyard has seen. The knowledge and confidence those staff now possess has increased hugely. Case studies Wine School really has given us the building blocks to help understand the world of wine and spirits.”

Jo Radford, Timberyard

Bryce Fraser, Corney & Barrow

“At Corney & Barrow we have put a number of our team through Claire’s WSET courses at both Level 2 and 3. It is essential that those working at Corney & Barrow have an excellent understanding of the wines and agencies within our portfolio which helps reinforce our customers’ confidence in our business.

Claire’s WSET courses are very professionally delivered, thoroughly enjoyable for employees and she works hard with each individual to make sure that the candidate is successful in the examination.”

Bryce Fraser, Corney & Barrow Scotland

Classroom Courses

At Case Studies Wine School we offer wine courses in the classroom in both the evening and during the day.

There are a number of benefits to taking a classroom course:

  • All wine samples are included
  • Weekly opportunity to meet with a tutor
  • Networking with like-minded students

WSET Level 1, 2 and 3 courses are offered as evening and daytime courses.

For each course students will receive:

  • A programme of evening/daytime classes to attend
  • WSET study materials
  • Weekly assignments – feedback will be given on all assignments submitted, progress will be monitored via the assignments
  • Access to a tutor by email or telephone Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm unless otherwise specified
  • Access to the course Dropbox folder containing presentations and review materials
  • The appropriate WSET examination

For course information, registration dates and prices or to register please use the following links:

Info / Register

Please get in touch if you have any further questions:

Get in touch …

Online Courses

Case Studies Wine School’s online / distance learning courses are a great opportunity for students that are looking for the flexibility to study at their own pace and organise their own study plans.

Students will receive:

  • WSET study materials.
  • Access to the CSWS online classroom including
    • a study plan
    • reading list
    • recommended sample list
    • Powerpoint presentations
    • video & audio recordings
    • assignments
  • Online tests and mock exams
  • Feedback on all assignments submitted
  • Access to an individually assigned tutor by email or telephone Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm
  • Full support and weekly updates and check ins from the assigned tutor
  • And for WSET Level 3 online students a tasting and theory tutorial held in Edinburgh prior to the examination.

Students can register at any time within the 6 month registration period. It is recommended that students allow 4 months for L3 and 2 months for L2.

For course information, registration dates and prices or to register please use the following links:

Info / Register

Please get in touch if you have any further questions:

Get in touch …

Ian Pirrie, ESFW

“We have worked with Claire for a number of years now. We are delighted to have her on board at the school as her training and pass marks are of a very high standard. She is extremely professional and makes wine study FUN. As such we are over the moon to have a joint partnership with her covering the WSET modules and training”

Ian Pirrie, Edinburgh School of Food & Wine