How to Prepare for the WSET Diploma D4 Exam

WSET Diploma D4 covers all things sparkling wine and, to me, was the most daunting outside of D3: Wines of the World.

The reason for this is that while the category of sparkling wine does not have many broad topics, the devil is in the details with many nuanced topics on things like local laws, production volumes, climates, lees aging, and more.

Throw in a major unexpected curveball on my exam (identifying country of origin and grape), and you have the makings for a rather challenging exam all around. So in this one, I wanted to dive into more about what you can expect, how to plan, and some D4 exam day logic as well!

Note: I took the WSET Diploma D4 exam in October 2022. Test material and structure can and does change over time. I am currently waiting on my results (estimated January 2023).

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Gambino Vini Feu d’O 2018 Review – Grillo and Carricante from Sicily

When I visited Sicily in 2019, I was able to stop at only one winery, Gambino Vini on the slopes of Mount Etna. While I regret not being able to try more wineries during my visit, I really fell in love with this producer and always have a few bottles on hand to enjoy at home.

One was their Feu d'O bottle made of a blend of Grillo and Carricante grapes.

We opted to pair this one with a mushroom-based pasta and quite enjoyed the pairing!

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Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Review – A Great Stay in the Finger Lakes

This article first appeared on our travel blog, Living the Dream.

I am a frequent traveler to the Finger Lakes- in recent years at least.

Part of this is because I now live within a manageable five hour drive, and the other part is that I've developed a love for many of the exceptional vineyards that call the region home (notably Boundary Breaks, Hermann J Wiemer, and Heron Hill to name a few- must visit Finger Lakes wineries in my opinion).

But one problem I've always had when visiting is figuring out where to stay.

The reason for this is because the area known as the Finger Lakes is large. It is so large, in fact, that to drive from the furthest west lake to the furthest east lake in one direction you're looking at a two hour drive time (not to mention bypassing every lake in between). Or if you want to stay in larger cities like Rochester, Syracuse, or Corning (for the Corning Museum of Glass) you're looking at 30-60 minutes of driving before you even begin to see water.

Going even further, if you pick any lake (especially larger ones like Seneca or Cayuga) you will have an hour driving just to go from tip to tip as well- all before stopping at all the vineyards, breweries, and distilleries along the way.

It is because of this that picking a good hotel location is so important when visiting. After my stay at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel as a guest of the property, I can safely say that I've found my spot for the foreseeable future.

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Champagne Dumenil Cuvee Prestige Vieilles Vignes Review

Whenever it comes to fine Champagne, you generally have many categories of bottles to choose from. These can include non-vintage, vintage, and more exclusive blends that feature the best of the best the producer has to offer.

Prestige-branded Champagne often is the top of the top for any given producer, and we knew we were in for a treat when we opened Champagne Dumenil's Cuvee Prestige Vieilles Vignes Brut.

But it wasn't until we sampled this astoundingly delicious bottle that we truly understood how special it was. This one is quite the gem!

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Freixenet Cordon Negro Gran Seleccion NV Review – A Mild Cava

When studying for my WSET Diploma D4 exam in sparkling wines, I had to buy a number of bottles well beyond my normal drinking habits.

While I do enjoy a good Cava, I often find myself trending to artisan producers over some of the larger companies. But for studying purposes, I knew I had to go for some name-brand bottles to increase my tasting experience, which is exactly how I ended up with a bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro Gran Seleccion.

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Naked Wines Review – A Different Kind of Wine Club to Love

In our never-ending quest to try new wine clubs, we stumbled upon Naked Wines at the recommendations of several friends.

This wine club takes a different kind of approach than conventional wine programs where members become de facto “investors” of artisan wineries around the world. But rather than being part owner, the perk comes back in the form of steeply discounted wines!

So in this one, we thought we'd share more about how Naked Wine works, what your membership fees get you (and how to get the most out of your orders), plus a broad look into the offerings we saw after joining.

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Celene Amethyste Brut Blanc de Noirs NV Review – A Great Price

In my studies for WSET Diploma, I knew I had to get my hands of a Blanc de Noirs style of wine to try.

This style of sparkling is white wine made from black grapes (hence the term “white of black”) and, in my shopping experience at least, is slightly harder to come by over the more popular (and highly prized) Blanc de Blanc style.

So not only was it a treat finding Celene's Amethyste Brut, it was also a treat to try a Cremant from Bordeaux made from Cabernet Franc and Merlot. But the real kicker was that this bottle was also on sale for about $12, which made it an absolute steal!

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Kavaklidere Prestige Bogazkere 2018 Review – Light Turkish Red

When we had a layover in Istanbul, with no connecting flight after returning stateside, we knew we had to do a little duty-free shopping.

Thankfully, Turkey has a lot of unique and indigenous grapes that we could pick up in duty-free, and Kavaklidere's Bogazkere was one such bottle. As this was a new-to-us grape, it certainly did not last very long in our cellar. We opened it up to enjoy with a steak and added it to our ever-growing grape list.

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Fidelitas Merlot 2018 Review – A Solid Red from Washington

When attending a conference in eastern Washington, I was fortunate enough to be able to sample many wineries near Tri-Cities at events before, during, and after the convention.

One such winery was Fidelitas, whose high-end Cabs and Merlots (plus other varietals) are shining examples of the quality of what the region produces.

I, sadly, did not pick up any bottles during my visit to this winery, but after the conference had ended one of the hosts snuck me a couple of bottles leftover from one of the evening parties. Not being one to say no to excellent wine for free, and this is how I ended up with a Fidelitas Merlot 2018 in my suitcase for the trip home.

Naturally, I had to open it shortly after returning.

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Chateau Picque Caillou Pessac-Leognan 2020 Review – Acidic French White

I have a love/hate relationship with Sauvignon Blanc (and blends) from France. On average I really enjoy the grape, but to get the intensity and complexity I generally prefer out of French wines it almost always feels like you have to start out at $40/bottle (if not more) to get to a quality point that other locales can provide for half the price.

This is not exclusive to Sauvignon Blanc. In all honesty, it is simply France knowing how to get the most for their wines abroad. But that being said, it seems especially true with all the Sauvignon Blancs we've tried.

The Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend from Chateau Picque Caillou from Pessac-Leognan was not much different. While this one was much more complex for its price point than we originally expected, we also weren't quite sure about the sell price in the USA.

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