Whether you’re the ultimate wine enthusiast or looking to make wine your profession, Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers a range of qualifications for every type of student. In addition, they accommodate 12 different languages and are accessible in several counties. So what exactly is available through this institute?
- WSET Certification
- WSET Levels
For an overview of all wine certifications, including reviews of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the National Wine School, you can check out our Sommelier Certification 101 page. For online sommelier certifications, please review our online wine courses page.
WSET Level1 Award in Wines
For anyone just starting in wine, this qualification is ideal. The course focuses on introducing different types of wine by learning the deductive tasting method. Other topics include typical grapes and their characteristics, core food, wine pairing concepts, and describing wine accurately. Upon completing a 30-multiple-question assessment, a lapel pin and a certificate are granted.
Level 2 Award in Wines
The L2 certificate builds on the knowledge gained in L1 and introduces more in-depth topics. Students study various grapes and how environment, winemaking, and maturation affect these wines. In addition, sparkling wine, fortified wine, and major wine regions are introduced. The exam has two parts: a 50-multiple choice question assessment and a blind wine tasting. Upon successful completion, a lapel pin and certificate are awarded.
Level 3 Awards in Wines
Level 3 is considered a professional qualification, especially for building a career in wine. The course provides an in-depth exploration of viticulture, fermentation, aging, and distributing wine. Sparkling, fortified, and still wines of the world are also presented. The tasting portion of this course is also thorough: students are required to evaluate and describe wine at a professional level.
The assessment consists of a 50-multiple-question portion, a short written paper, and a blind tasting. To receive a lapel pin and certificate, all three sections are required. Students can also use ‘WSET 3’ as part of their professional signature.
WSET Level4 Diploma in Wines
This is the highest level of their certifications. An L4 diploma is a six-part wine course imparting expert knowledge in winemaking, wine businesses, fortified and sparkling wines, and an independent research assignment. This wine diploma takes 18 – 36 months to complete, and upon completion, a lapel pin and certificate are awarded. Students can also use ‘Dip WSET’ as their professional signature.
Apart from the wine qualifications offered, there are also qualifications available in spirits and sake.
Level 1, 2, 3, in Spirits
These qualifications work similarly to the qualifications in wine. Each level builds on the knowledge of the previous level. The topics covered in these qualifications include the production of the spirits, types of spirits, flavor influences, and how to analyze spirits’ taste.
Level 1, 2, 3, in Sake
Like the wine and spirits qualifications, each level forms the foundation for the following level. The topics here include types and styles of sake and how to serve and store sake. In the third level, essential issues regarding the sake industry and export markets are covered.
Whatever your industry needs, whether it be wine, spirits, or sake, the Wine & Spirit Education classes offer some incredible options for each. These qualifications are held to the highest standard and great for any general wine or spirits industry.
What to Expect From a Wine Education
Wine & Spirit Education Trust is a franchise organization that sells its educational programs’ rights to individual contractors. The content consists of PowerPoint presentations and wine tastings. These wine schools impart a thorough and detailed knowledge of wine at their best. At their worst, an elitist British attitude reigns, and excessive reliance on repetition and memorization. The program is geared towards the restaurant professional, with modules on serving etiquette, spirits, beer, and cigar service, which may not interest all students.
We strongly recommend checking out reviews of individual wine schools for the best education possible.
The best programs employ instructors at the top of their field who can make a standard wine program shine. For instance, the Napa Valley Wine Academy offers some of the best in-person experiences for classes in the country.
Benefits of a WSET Certificate
Drilling down on the data, we have found that two types of students will almost always prefer this type of wine education. T e first is those who have not earned a college degree. T e rigorous demands of the program assure that these students can achieve high status within their chosen profession. While these schools lack a level of creativity, they meet the educational needs of an underserved market.
The second group of students who prefer WSET wine certification to other types of wine education is those outside the U.S. Itis the most recognized certification worldwide. It has spent decades adapting its programs in emerging markets like China, Africa, and the Middle East. Its conservative nature and consistency are appealing to students who are working globally. In addition, it is well-known for its hierarchical structure, which may also benefit these learners by providing clear steps for advancement.
Our research is unambiguous on one crucial point: wine education does not have to be unique or trendy. On the contrary, there is great value in offering a wine course that has remained unchanged for fifty years.
But our surveys show some concerning trends. For example, many students have soured on PowerPoint presentations and are concerned by the lack of diversity within the organization. However, the program is so widely-known and respected that many continue to earn their Diploma despite these drawbacks.
Many sommeliers and wine professionals have rated the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Check out those reviews here.
Is a WSET certificate worth it?
Wine education is always worth the effort. Whether or not WSET certification should be your focus depends on you. The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is an excellent option for people who prefer memorization and analytics. Court of Master Sommeliers puts more credence on restaurant management and the National Wine School focuses on experiential education.
What is WSET certified?
To be WSET certified requires you to complete at least one level of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust program.
Is WSET a sommelier?
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is adamant that they do not offer sommelier certification. However, their programs are in line with all standards and protocols of similar programs, all of which offer sommelier credentials. Here at SOMM, we believe that anyone who has completed the WSET Level 3 programs is a certified sommelier.
Is WSET 3 hard to pass?
The WSET 3 is a difficult program, but it is on par with all L3 sommelier programs.