A Very Special, Unique Education Course
People commonly think that wine experts, or sommeliers, are just people who are paid to drink wine. They are people who gather to swish wine, smell it, and drink only a few ounces of the stuff. It’s true that that is one part of being a sommelier, but it takes more than being able to drink wine to be a sommelier. Wine professionals actually spend more time studying and learning about wine than they do drinking it. There are actually several accredited organizations and wine education courses in the world. The following is a look at some of the best there are.
The Four Best Wine Education Courses
This guide will look at the four best wine education courses that are guaranteed to improve your chances of finding work in the wine business. They are the National Wine School (NWS), the Court of Masters Sommeliers (CMS), the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
National Wine School
The highest certification the NWS offers is a diploma, the equivalent of a Master Sommelier certificate. It’s a good choice for people who want to improve their wine education, but have no idea where to start. Learners at the NWS will make their way through five levels before passing on to the diploma level and earning full accreditation. Altogether this course is a two year crash course for building a wine program and inventory, this certification is good to have for sure, but it is tricky to attain. This program is part of the curriculum at several universities, and only a handful of wine schools are permitted to offer this wine course independent of a bachelor’s degree.
Court of Masters Sommeliers
The Court of Masters Sommeliers, as the name implies, ends with you getting a Masters qualification in being a sommelier. Due to the nature of the course, it can take 7-10 years on average to earn your Masters degree. You’re in trouble if you take this course lightly. It can help you become the lead sommelier or a wine director, but only about 20% of the people who take the test actually pass it. There are only 197 professionals around the world with the title Master Sommelier, including 18 women in North America.
Institute of Masters of Wine
The highest qualification you can get through the IMW is to be declared a Master of Wine. This qualification can help you become the marketing/account director for a wine related business, a wine analyst, and a wine director, but it’s not possible to just join the program. It takes a lot of work to even get into the program, much less pass it. You need to have a WSET Level 4 diploma (or something of an equivalent value) and have been recommended by a few other Masters of Wine. The Masters of Wine exam is excruciating. It involves taking four theory test papers that last three hours each, a practical test comprising of three blind flights of 12 wines, and a 10,000-word dissertation. It’s a lot of work, but this degree goes a very long way.
Wine and Spirits Education Trust
The WSET goes all the way up to a Level 5 Honors diploma, and is a great way to become a wine educator, sensory analyst, or a wine distribution manager. What makes the WSET so great is the approachable nature of the course. It’s the ideal course for people who are new to the industry or for people who just want to learn more about wine. The multi-tiered approach it takes is more approachable for amateurs, as you can study up to the level you want. Keep in mind that the further into the program you get, the better your qualification and the further it can take you.
Keep in mind that these are just the accreditations. You will still need find a great sommelier school to earn these accreditations at. Check out some sommelier school reviews to find out which one is best for you.