When it comes to learning about wine, there are a lot of avenues you can take, including wine certification. If you’ve learned how to collect wine, how to build a wine cellar, and how to be a wine connoisseur, you may be wondering what else there is to learn.
There’s always more to learn about wine, as you discover new wine grape vines and the climates for growing wine grapes in new areas. You can dive into the history of red wine, the history of white wine, the history of rosé, and the history of champagne. From the business side, you can learn about buying a winery, how to start a wine business, or how to manage a wine bar.
Getting a wine certification on your list of wine facts you’ve learned is a good way to learn about wine in a structured setting. In this BinWise blog post, we’ll walk you through six avenues of learning about wine in a specific structure. We’ll also touch on learning about wine on your own. There’s no wrong way to learn more about wine.
What Is a Wine Certification?
So, what is a wine certification? A wine certification is a program and an acknowledgement that you’ve learned some very specific, in-depth information about wine. Wine certifications come in several forms. Beyond wine certification options, you can also go to school for varying levels of wine education.
Some wine education degrees include:
- Winemaking or viticulture
- Wine business
Which of those degrees is right for you will depend on what you want to do in the world of wine. You may find that you want to pair a degree with a wine certification. If you’re working in a winery, some level of degree or certification will come in handy. If you’re planning to open a winery, you’ll want experience with winemaking from the program of your choice.
6 Wine Certification Options
The wine certification options you have when you pursue a certificate cover a range of information about wine. Some are designed for people working in the hospitality industry. If you’re working in country clubs, country club dining, the hotel industry, or customer experience in a bar or restaurant, you’ll want a wide-ranging certification.
If you’re on the restaurant tech side of the hospitality industry, a more specific, technical wine certification may be the best choice for you. For a restaurant or bar owner, any level of wine certification will come in handy. These six notable wine certifications are a good place to start.
6. International Sommelier Guild
The International Sommelier Guild is a wine education group that offers a range of courses and certifications. It’s a good place for all-around knowledge. Many people who study through the International Sommelier Guild end up going on to take further certification courses.
5. Society of Wine Educators
The Society of Wine Educators has a range of self-guided programs and certification options for wine enthusiasts. The Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) is the program’s most sought-after certification, as it prepares you to be able to share your knowledge of wine in educational and service settings.
4. Wine Scholar Guild
The Wine Scholar Guild is for wine lovers looking for some very specific wine education. The Wine Scholar Guild offers certifications in French, Italian, and Spanish wine.
3. Institute of Masters of Wine
The Institute of Masters of Wine is part of a journey to be certified in wine education. To apply, you must have the WSET diploma or an equivalent certification. The study itself includes three stages of self-directed learning, culminating in the exam which is known for its difficulty.
2. Court of Master Sommeliers
The Court of Master Sommeliers is well known, even outside of the inner world of wine. The Court of Master Sommeliers offers four exam levels, the top most of which has seen less than 300 successful students.
1. Wine and Spirit Education Trust
The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is world-renowned as one of the most prestigious, all-encompassing wine certifications. The WSET offers four levels of certification. It is similar to the sommelier program, but is designed more for educational purposes than the service industry.
Self-Taught Wine Knowledge
Wine certification can be an exceptional tool and learning opportunity. It can also be expensive, time consuming, and not always what you’re looking for when it comes to learning about wine. If you’re not looking for a certification, getting some self-taught wine knowledge is a good option too!
You can learn from books, visiting wineries, and participating in wine tastings. You can take classes, work with sommeliers, and travel when you can to see wine around the world. There is no wrong way to learn about wine.
"Key Takeaway: Getting a wine certification is an excellent way to learn more about enjoying wine, and have certifiable experience in the industry."
Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Certifications
The road of choosing a wine certification and doing the work of becoming certified can be long, and lead to more questions than you knew you’d have. If you’re looking to get certified for work, future work, or purely for the love of wine, there’s a lot you should know before you get started. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you along the way.
What Is the Most Recognized Wine Certification?
The most recognized wine certification is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, or WSET. The WSET is recognized worldwide as being comprehensive for all wine knowledge. There are four levels of certification for the WSET. You can choose to complete them all, or go through just a few levels.
What Is a CSW In Wine?
A CSW in the world of wine is a Certified Specialist of Wine. The CSW is a certification you can get through the Society of Wine Educators. It’s most often recommended for wine experts who want to teach others about wine. This can be people who work in restaurants and bars, or private wine collectors and educators.
What Is the Toughest Wine Exam?
The Master Sommelier’s Diploma exam is widely recognized as the toughest wine exam. Most sommeliers who sit for the exam take it two or three times, and some take it up to six times.
The test is spread over three years, and if you don’t pass each of the three sections–theory, service, and blind tasting–in those years, you have to start again. To date, there are 273 Master Sommeliers with the full diploma.
What Is the Pass Rate for Wine Sommeliers?
The pass rate for wine sommeliers changes depending on which level of the test the candidate takes. For the first level, around 90% of students pass the weekend-long test. The next level, which is the Certified Sommelier, sees a 66% pass rate.
The Advanced Sommelier third level has about a 25% success rate. The fourth level, the Master Sommelier certificate, has about a 5% pass rate. Many sommeliers choose to pass a few levels and work with those certifications alone. The sommelier levels can be grueling.
Wine Certifications: Certified Connoisseurs
Getting a wine certification is an excellent way to learn more about enjoying wine, and have certifiable experience in the industry. If you work in hospitality and specifically work in a place where wine is served, produced, or marketed, a wine certification may be the right choice for you.
If you’re working with wine and looking for beverage inventory software and an inventory management system, reach out to BinWise. The BinWise Pro platform is designed to support you while you take inventory. The BinScan mobile app gives you inventory management support in the palm of your hand.