Wine & Spirit Education Trust
Wine & Spirit Education Trust

WSET History

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is a British organisation which arranges courses and exams in the trade of wine and spirits. WSET was founded in 1969, and  is headquartered in London.

Commonly referred to as WSET, it commonly regarded as one of the world’s foremost providers of wine certification. It grew out of the Wine & Spirit Association’s Education Committee and was subsidized with the  financial help of the Vintners’ Company.

The administration of the the Wine & Spirit Education Trust reports to a Board of Trustees with 8 members; three from The Vintners’ Company, three from the Wine & Spirit Association, one from the Worshipful Company of Distillers(London) and another from the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Programs for Restaurant Staff

The courses given by WSET were originally intended for employees in the wine & spirit trade. The WSET programs are also attended by non-professional connoisseurs. The WSET further offers professional certification in the United States, with franchises across the country.

Many schools in the United States are affiliated with WSET and offer their course material.  With minimal oversight, the quality of those schools is very variable. In our independent reviews, we have found that the instruction at WSET schools span the gamut from excellent to disappointing.

Best WSET Wine Schools

With more oversight of various wine schools, their sommelier certifications could regain their place as one of the top wine education firms in the United States. If you are interested in WSET courses, we strongly suggest looking toward Napa and NYC. Otherwise, you may just get an outdated powerpoint presentation and a glass of middling wine. You should also read our reviews of individual wine schools very closely before committing to a specific WSET school.


We believe that the classroom experience is very important with a program like WSET, as they do not offer state or regional accreditation at any of their schools in the states. Their diplomas are what are known as “Trade Certifications” which is the lowest tier of certification in the states. For an overview we strongly recommend reading our overview  here: Sommelier Certifications in America.

More concerning is that WSET does not require continuing education exams, which are a key to Federal rules on professional certification and may nullify WSET diplomas in the future. This is not a problem in other countries, or in London, where the school is fully accredited.


See Also:

Wine & Spirit Education Trust

9 thoughts on “Wine & Spirit Education Trust

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  • 21st October 2016 at 12:09 pm

    How would you rate WSET’s Home Study Program? I am looking at the PhillyWine WSET program. The home study program is much more affordable, but I wouldn’t take it if it were not a quality program. Thank you!

    • 21st October 2016 at 5:19 pm

      The WSET Home Study program is best taken in NYC. We have not had good feedback about the Philadelphia franchise. That said, we feel it is better to take a course at a good school rather than take an online or home study program.

      • 21st October 2016 at 5:43 pm

        Thanks for the feedback. So in your opinion, what’s my best option for Philly area? Wine school of Philadelphia? I’m not looking for a career in wine, (I’m semi-retired), but I want enough knowledge to be qualified to work in a winery or tasting room. I was hoping not to spend $1000+,, but I will if that’s what’s necessary. Thanks again!!

      • 22nd October 2016 at 2:10 pm

        Have you any feedback on the Wine School of Philadelphia? I don’t have personal knowledge of the school: we did a survey about a year ago with positive results. Honest reports are always welcome.

    • 12th June 2017 at 8:52 am

      Hi Karen, I don’t know if you sorted out the questions you had with regard to WSET. I took Level 3 online two years ago while living in NYC. The online program was quite rigorous and the assignments were reviewed by a wine instructor located in London. I passed the written exam with distinction and I am now looking to take level 4. I too now live in Philly and the only place it is offered is at Phillywine, which only received a 52% approval rating. So I am wondering what to do as well…

      • 12th June 2017 at 10:35 am

        I have been considering Wine School of Philadelphia for their Foundation program. However I now see that Wine spectator has an online course for wine lovers and also professionals. It’s not certification, but its comprehensive and free for wine spectator subscribers. For what I’m interested in, I don’t think the certification is necessary. For certification, The Wine School has an excellent reputation, and I have taken several wineclasses there.
        Good luck!

      • 16th June 2017 at 6:50 pm


        Let us know how you like the online wine school at Wine Spectator. We haven’t reviewed it yet. We’ve talked to two people who took their online classes, and weren’t thrilled about the experience.

        On another note, some wine schools will give you a significant discount if you don’t need a diploma. You should ask your local schools if they would let you audit their classes.

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