WSET Student Experiences: Job Hogendoorn

Published: 30/09/2019

After spending summer vacations with his family and later working in Catalunya, Job moved from his home in the Netherlands to Barcelona in November 2017, having landed a job with the city’s outpost of Soho House. He has a degree in International Hospitality Management and passed both his WSET Level 2 and 3 qualifications with Distinction this year. He is the recipient of the Wine Courses Barcelona WSET Level 2 Student of the Year 2018/19 award. His passion for wine started during his time at university, when he joined a student association dedicated to it.

In July, we grabbed a coffee and talked wine trips, his new favourite regions and keeping in touch with WSET course mates.

So, tell me about the wine student association…

I studied international hospitality management in not-too-big a city in the North of the Netherlands where there were seven or eight student associations. That’s a thing in the Netherlands; some a bit more extreme, some more for enthusiasts. This one was dedicated to wine, especially for people from hospitality studies, and super relaxed. So no duties, no responsibilities; just once a week have a drink and sometimes tastings.

What got you interested in wine in the first place?

To be honest I didn’t choose that association for the wine… (rather) because they were nice people and it sounded interesting. If it was the same story about cocktails, for example, maybe I would have joined that as well. The first couple of tastings were like, okay, great! Drinking wine before going out, that’s amazing! And then I started to remember more, and then the second year I joined the board of the association so I started organising (meetings) as well. And then (I started) to think more about what you can offer and contacting people who wanted to come and speak. We always asked for experts, so sommeliers or someone who could really talk to us about the subject. And we did a wine trip once a year. We went to the Northern Rhone and Bordeaux. Somehow we were able to organise a wine trip for a week for €250! We did a lot!

And did you come straight to Barcelona from university?

Yes… I’d always worked in Spain in the summers. I went with my parents to the South of Catlunya on holidays, and when they didn’t want to go anymore and… (I still did) I contacted the camp site to ask if I could work there… The last year I worked there I had just finished my thesis and I knew I had to look for a new job. (I thought) let’s see if, this summer, I can find something in another country. Then at this beach restaurant where I worked, the general manager of my current work came and I had a chat with him and it turned out he was working in hospitality in Barcelona. I was interested so I told him a bit about my history and then it turned out he was the manager of this place, Soho House, that I’d never heard of! So we shared our contact information. The next day he came again, we had a talk again. Then… in August one day, when I was finally off… I could come to visit. And I had interviews with the restaurant manager, HR manager and the general manager… and then it was like, okay (!), I’m going to Barcelona! That was unexpected, because I thought I would be going to another country to gain experience.

So now you’ve been working there for one and a half years; why did you decide to take a WSET course this year?

They (Soho House) always offer a wine course to some of the waiters and some of the bartenders. Last year, in January, some of my colleagues did that course and I was asking the managers, ‘what’s this wine course? Why can’t I do that course?’ But they’d chosen already. And then at the end of last year they told us the wine courses were coming up and said ‘to be honest with you, you already know some (information) about wine and there are other people who need some stimulation to get motivated so we’re planning to send them’. And I totally agreed; they could probably learn way more there than I would. But I wanted to do something else. So I found WSET on the internet and I knew I wanted to learn about wine in a more structured way. So then I tested this idea with our general manager and he asked me to send (the information) to him and the HR manager. I explained what WSET is, I made a small presentation. They needed to know everything like what the benefits (of my having the qualification) were… And they accepted (the proposal) and to pay the majority of the cost as well. And then I started in January.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I enjoyed having the knowledge I (already) had put into a structure. (Before) it was some knowledge about this, some knowledge about that… I really liked that I learned about smaller regions that I’d never heard of, especially in France. I feel like I really rediscovered France. In the Netherlands we mostly drink French wines. It’s the most well known and I always felt more interested in Spain and Italy because there seemed to be more to discover there. But thanks to WSET I now understand why France has the best wine! So now I’m totally back into French wines. That’s the biggest benefit for me: I really know what I like and what to suggest to people.

What are your favourite styles now?

In whites, I really like the Côte de Beaune and other white Burgundies, and Loire valley wines. Now I’ve tried a couple of wines we discussed on the course but didn’t try. I really love Chinon! There’s a shop called Maison Puyvalin I like and they have a good selection.

And are you still in contact with people from the course?

I’m still in contact with Laila from the Level 2 course and she and a friend have opened a wine bar now (La Catalista in Born)… It’s all Catalan wines with a story so she’s serving (Vega de Ribes) Sasserra by the glass, for example. So once she sent me a message asking if I wanted to join in a tasting for a wine bar that was going to open. So I went along with another couple of people to try the food pairings… and we gave our opinions about all the wines and the matches with the food. So with these people we’ve now made a small group to do tastings. All of them have done WSET. I was also drinking wines with Simon (a WSET Level 3 classmate) before he left (Barcelona). But that’s the story of Barcelona: people leaving

What are your plans for how you’ll use the qualifications?

A couple of months ago I was really… at the dilemma point of (deciding) whether I want to dedicate my career more to wine or do I want to move toward being a general manager because that was always my purpose. Now I’ve chosen the general manager career path so wine is going to stay as a hobby for me. At my job now I’m still the person most responsible for the wine… but I’m not going to move to a Michelin-star restaurant. I visited ABaC (three Michelin-star restaurant in Barcelona) just after the course. I got in contact via LinkedIn with the sommelier there… and she showed me around everything. It was really great and then I was considering it a bit… But in the end I had a good offer from Soho House and I’m going to start their management training programme at the end of the year.

Congratulations! So tell us your favouite places for a drink in Barcelona?

There’s Bar Eldiset… and, because of the atmosphere, I really like Maestrazgo. It’s a wine shop with a few tables and seats where you sit in the middle of a wine shop drinking wine. That’s fun. For cocktails I like Paradiso and Dr. Stravinsky. And then in Plaça Reial you have this place, Pipa. It’s a bit like a club, it looks a little like Soho House. It’s in the corner, a bit hidden, and it’s open until very late. You get a membership card the first time that you go and you go up two or three flights and it’s like a kind of big house with seats everywhere. That’s cool.

Thank for the tip, Job! Huge thanks to this star student for his time and unending enthusiasm for the world of wine. Fancy following in his footsteps? If Job has inspired you to grab a glass and get involved, then start your own wine journey with Wine Courses Barcelona today.

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