If you are interested in obtaining professional wine credentials, be sure to investigate which certifications will be most useful to your interest level or career path, as some are more education-focused and others are more service-focused. Also, some of these certifications are offered in combination with a prep course, while some are only an exam, where applicants are expected to have prepared on their own.
Offered by the Society of Wine Educators:
- Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)
- Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS)
- Certified Wine Educator (CWE) (CSW is a prerequisite)
As the name suggests, these certifications are education focused. The CWE even requires a "presentation skills demonstration."
Offered by the International Sommelier Guild:
- Wine Fundamentals 1 and 2 (usually offered together)
- Sommelier Diploma Program (Fundamentals 1 and 2 are prerequisites)
Fundamentals 1 and 2 are focused on general knowledge, but the Diploma level includes a service portion on the exam.
Offered by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust:
- Level 1 - focusing on wine, spirits, or service
- Level 2 - focusing on wine & spirits, or spirits only
- Level 3 - focusing on wine & spirits
- Level 4 - diploma in wine & spirits
- Level 5 - honors diploma (individual research project)
This group is based in the UK, and the courses are focused more on general knowledge than service.
Offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers:
- Level 1 - Intro course and exam
- Level 2 - Certified Sommelier exam (no course)
- Level 3 - Advanced Sommelier course and exam
- Level 4 - Master Sommelier diploma exam
The level 1 exam is written, but beginning with level 2 these exams cover written theory, blind tasting, and practical service.
Offered by the French Wine Society:
- French Wine Scholar (FWS)
- Bordeaux master level
- Burgundy master level
- Languedoc-Rousillon master level
- Rhone master level
- Provence master level
- Champagne master level (coming in 2013)
These are written exams. Depending on where you live, you may have access to a local course that helps you prepare for the exam. The French Wine Society also provides extensive web-based instruction and resources.
Offered by the North American Sommelier Association:
- Italian Wine Specialist
- Certified Sommelier
- Master of Service
- Master Taster
These are all presented as courses with exams at the end. And yes, the group does use the acronym "NASA," for reasons I can't begin to imagine.
Offered by the Institute of Masters of Wine:
- Master of Wine
This is the highest level designation I'm aware of. There are only a few hundred people in the world who have qualified, and years of extensive individual study and training are required. Blind tasting is a significant portion of the exam.
Copyright © 2012 by Joanna Opaskar
All rights reserved.
All rights reserved.