I’ve got several requests for tips on passing wine exams and how useful it is to get a WSET certificate, it definitely helped me a lot with the framework of the world’s wine regions and winemaking knowledge.
There are all together 4 levels in WSET programme, which leads you to the title of Master of Wine if you are the luckiest few who survives till the end. For wine lovers, especially those who devote all their passions to wine, it would be great to have this title- Mater of Wine, isn’t it cool?!
Without further ado, let’s take a close view on what are all these courses about…
Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET)
Highest Certificate Level 4 Diploma
What wine jobs will WSET help you get?
- Marketing/Account Manager in a wine-related business
- Sensory Analyst
- Wine Educator
- Wine Distribution Management
- Wine Region Educational Director
- Wine Marketing and Wine Sales Leadership Roles
WSET is approachable
For those who are new to the food and beverage industry and would like more direction than given by their place of employment, this is the place to start. This educational series is also great for those outside of the industry that just want to learn more.
The multi-tiered Level Awards make this program very approachable to the most novice of wine enthusiasts. And there is an element of “choose your own adventure.” Want to be more wine or more spirits savvy? Take the level courses for one or the other, or do both. Not all these courses are required to move up to the intermediate and advanced level awards and you do not have to take all the classes.
WSET Level 1 This is a beginner level course designed for anyone trying to get into wine.
WSET Level 2 If you can prove advanced knowledge you can start with WSET Level 2.
WSET Level 3 A Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits or equivalent is recommended.
- Wine & Spirits
- This course is 7 days of actual classes but outside study time is necessary. Tasting technique and learning about production and distribution of wine and spirits is the main focus. This could be an ideal class for those in distribution, retail or supervisory roles. Completing a 50 question multiple choice test, with a short answer quiz, and properly written tasting notes on two wines is necessary to obtain this award.
Passing the Level 3 WSET will award you the ability to apply to use the WSET Certified Advanced Logo on your resume.
WSET Level 4 & Diploma WSET Level 3 is a prerequisite. Receiving a WSET Diploma is a great segue into the IMW.
This is where the courses jump into the globalization and marketing of wine in addition to in-depth wine theory. Short multiple choice exams become passé at this point. A 6 unit exam looms as the gateway to your diploma.
Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW)
Highest Certificate Master of Wine.
What wine jobs will IMW help you get?
- Marketing/Account Director in a wine related business
- Sensory Analyst or Wine Analyst
- Wine Director of Education and Programming for large retail, restaurant or hotel chain.
- Wine Region Director
- Wine Program Manager in Media or Marketing
- International Wine Business Director
Acceptance into IMW involves already having a strong core of wine knowledge and experience, made evident by a WSET Level 4 Diploma or equivalent, and having the recommendation from a few Masters of Wine (MW). If you want to pursue a career in the marketing of wine, or as a wine educator; becoming a Master of Wine holds a lot of cachet in both fields. Be prepared to work your ass off. This ain’t no cakewalk. They call you a Master for a reason.
What it’s like to pursue the Master of Wine title
Although a syllabus and a personal Master of Wine mentor is provided, setting your rigorous study schedule is up to you. A school year runs from October to May, and it takes at least two of these cycles to just be accepted to take the exam to be then accepted into the Institute. It is the Holy Tabernacle of Wine Certification. The directive with the Institute is to elevate the skills of critical thinking and articulation within each student in matters of wine; with special focus given to international business, and wine analysis on a viticultural and vinicultural level. This is accomplished by annual residential seminars lasting 5 days that are led by Masters of Wine and lots and lots of writing. The first year narrows in on reinforcing gaps in theory, service and wine analysis. An assessment exam of essays at the end determine whether a student progresses to the second year. The second year ups the ante with regular course assignments added to your self study regime. This serves as a continuation of fine-tuning a student’s ability to present their knowledge of any business of wine in a succinct and effective manner.
Taking the MW exam
To become a Master of Wine you will endure a 3-part examination. Theory and Practical first; if passed, then a dissertation. All are comprised of, surprise! lots of writing. Theory is four papers, three hours apiece. Practical is three blind flights of 12 wines where, in addition to identification, the wines must be analyzed for their quality, winemaking, and style. The 10,000 word dissertation must be on an original wine topic chosen by the student and approved by the Institute.
While preparing for my WSET level 4, few words to share with those who decided to take the same path as mine: It is NOT as easy as you have imagined, not at all! nevertheless, it does’t mean it cannot be achieved. If i can do it, you can definitely do it!
While we suffer from all the papers and theories, we learn, we grow and eventually we are more confident to call ourselves – wine lovers & grape adventurers!
Cheers to all!