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 Otherwise, you may just get an outdated powerpoint presentation and a glass of middling wine.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.
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