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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Majestic Wine Warehouses dominated this year's Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Awards, with winners in seven of the 42 categories, although rival multiple specialist Oddbins scooped the evening's top award (Top Diploma graduate). Direct Wines made it an even better night for the specialist wine retailers, picking up three awards at the event co-hosted by wine writer Charles Metcalfe and WSET chief excutive Ian Harris. Top Diploma student Sarah Ahmed, manager of Oddbins' Farringdon branch, has only been in the wine trade for three years, after giving up a 12-year career as a solicitor to follow her passion in wine. I attended a wine course at the shop I now manage,' she explained, and I was utterly seduced.' Ahmed puts her success down to a lot of tasting' and the Vintners' Scholarship she won in 2001 for her Higher Certificate results, which enabled her to spend two weeks studying in Chile. This year saw a record number of Diploma graduates with more than 300 students passing all sections of the exam. It was also the first time that more students passed the Diploma overseas than did so in the UK. The Diploma is particularly popular in Germany and Austria.