From Wine Enthusiast to Certified Wine Lover

By April 15, 2016Wine
From Wine Enthusiast to Certified Wine Lover - Wine Certification Programs

Ready to take your love of wine to the next level?  Well, you’re not alone.  Wine certification programs aren’t just for those seeking a professional position within the wine industry anymore and have become increasingly popular with wine enthusiasts across the country.

There are a number of options when it comes to wine certification, so how do you choose which one is right for you? It depends on your ultimate goal as well as your skill set.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you narrow it down:

  • Why are you looking to get certified? This could be for personal enrichment, professional advancement, “street cred”, for the good fo the wine industry or if your organization wants you to.
  • Are you looking to be a wine specialist or wine generalist? Is there a specific wine type or region that you are particularly interested in? Or are you looking to gain more general knowledge about wine overall?
  • How much time are you able to commit to getting certified? Different programs require different time commitments.  Make sure you fully understand what those will be before starting your program.
  • What degree of difficulty are you willing to undertake? Or in other words, how much studying are you willing to do?
  • What is your “tipping point” when looking at the cost/benefit ratio of a program? Wine certification programs vary greatly when it comes to cost – but overall, the higher the certification you are seeking, the higher the cost.

Now to look at a two of the main wine certification options for the wine enthusiast (or someone not looking to fully work in the wine industry):

      • The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
        • The program includes five different levels of certification, highest being an Honorary Diploma in Wine and Spirits.
        • Study can include both wine and spirits
        • The program requires no prerequisites to begin
        • Courses range from $199 – $875
        • If you were interested in wine jobs, you could expect the following roles for this certification:
          • Marketing position in a wine-related business
          • Wine Educator
          • Wine Distribution Manager
          • Sensory Analyst
      • The Society of Wine Educators (SWE)
        • The program includes a number of certifications:
          • Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Certificate
          • Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)
          • Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS)
          • Certified Wine Educator (CWE)
        • Study can include both wine and spirits
        • This program requires no prerequisites to begin
        • Courses range from $100 – $550
        • If you were interested in wine jobs, you could expect the following roles for this certification:
          • Wine Educator
          • Many roles within the hospitality and beverage industry
          • Wine Director
          • Beverage Manager

There are, of course, many more wine certification programs but most are focused on educating wine professionals rather than the everyday wine enthusiast.  If you are seeking a professional position in the wine industry, the programs listed above are excellent resources as well as the Court of Master Sommeliers (MS), the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), and the Wine Scholar Guild (formerly French Wine Society).

Beth Peluse

Author Beth Peluse

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