How to become a Master of Wine
The Master of Wine qualification is one of the most sought-after honors in the wine trade. To be accepted into the program, you must already have accomplished a top honor. That includes earning the L4 certificate by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), a Master of Wine Business, a Master of Science in Wine Management, or a similar program. Curiously, the Institue of Masters of Wine does not endorse the Court of Master Sommeliers as a path to becoming a Master of Wine.
Master Sommelier vs Master of Wine
No love is lost between these two wine accreditation agencies, both based out of England. Some claim the MiW is harder than the MS, but both programs are shrouded in secrecy and have the whiff of an old boys club.
Wine & Spirit Education Trust
WSET is an independent non-profit organization that offers quality wine education to industry professionals and individuals curious to gain a deeper understanding of their favorite beverages. They offer nine qualifications (as of 2018) that cover wines, spirits, and sake with meticulous detail. This program is the typically path toward becoming a Master of Wine.
Theirs is a globally recognized certification whose highest level (Level 4) is a diploma that qualifies candidates to join the coveted Master of Wine program. In addition, the WSET is represented globally in over 70 countries by charted Approved Programming Providers (APPs). The providers are primarily qualified to deliver the same standard of education they are well-known for. However, some APPs are better than others. Check out our wine school reviews for a comprehensive review of credentials.
Many leading brands well support them through their Corporate Patronage Program. In addition, the WSET regularly posts on job opportunities available to their alumni with various qualifications if you are looking for a job.
How to get to WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits
In our post, “How to become a sommelier,” we highlighted the key things you should do to be mentally prepared for this undertaking. While on the outside looking in, it might seem a breeze, but the rigorous training and study might come as a surprise to many.
It requires little professional experience and can be taken as a classroom course or an online program. Moreover, they allow you to do it from anywhere in the world. The online version is quite handy; they ship you a packet with books and enroll you into an online classroom where you can study with fellow candidates and discuss various topics guided by your assigned professor.
WSET Level 1
This is an introductory level. The Wine & Spirit Education Trust offers three wines, spirits, and sake versions. They are to be taken separately.
Like most introductory classes, passing this exam is relatively easy. Candidates learn the basics of wine, major grapes, and wine regions of the world.
WSET Level 2
At this level, which requires some years of experience in the industry to enroll, the student is expected to grasp wine styles, their regions of production, and good recommendation skill.
The course covers major grape varieties, labeling terminologies, and critical classifications. Successful completion earns the student a WSET certificate and lapel pin. You can also use the associated WSET certified logo.
WSET Level 3
Things get a little more complicated here. The applicants should have passed Level 2 or its equivalent. The scope of the study covers winemaking from the farm to the winery, with attention on every aspect in between. Therefore, one should be capable of recommending wines across diverse styles.
Candidates gain invaluable skills in assessing wines accurately and explaining their findings. In addition, they receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin and will be able to use the associated WSET certified logo.
WSET Level 4 Diploma
It covers with incredible depth wine and spirit production, wine regions and styles, and the global trade in wines and spirits. On completion, you receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin and will be able to use the post-nominal DipWSET and associated WSET certified logo. It is the stepping stone into the Maters of Wine program. You are required to hold the WSET Level 3 in Wines and Spirits or its equivalent to enroll.
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is one of the most comprehensive and thorough courses available. It is also reasonably flexible on when and how you can do it.
The Institute of Masters of Wine
The road to earning the Master in Wine credential is long and full of failed attempts. Once you have completed the WSET courses, you can apply to the Institute. There are three levels to pass.
- Level One. A week-long seminar that will cost a fortune and another four-day course. This section finishes off with a blind tasting and multiple essays.
- Level Two. Another financially crippling weeklong seminar and yet another weeklong course. Then there will be multiple blind tasting exams and days of written theory exams. We have a copy of the Master of Wine Exam for reference.
- Level Three. The research paper section comes with plenty of “voluntary” workshops you can pay for.
Survive? Bankrupt? Congratulations! You are now a Master of Wine!