Frequently Asked Questions

French Wine Scholar Program FAQs

Program Overview

Why invest in certification ?

The era of self-professed wine experts is long over. Professionals need credentials.

Certification is resume-building, validates competency and serves as a point of distinction midst trade and peers alike.

The era of self-professed wine experts is long over. Professionals need credentials.

Certification is resume-building, validates competency and serves as a point of distinction midst trade and peers alike.

What do past students say about the program?

Very good things! Click HERE.

What do past students say about the program?

How is the program formatted? Distance-Learning? Classroom?

Both distance-learning and classroom formats are available! Students pick the format that is best suited to their schedule and their preferred learning method.

Why study French wine?

All students of wine eventually discover France. Some use it as the starting point to begin their vinous exploration while others arrive in France after having sampled the wines of other countries.  There is a world within French wine and the wines and wine styles of France have certainly impacted the entire wine world.

Many reference France as the benchmark for wine production. But this is not just because of the quality and quantity of wines it produces. This long-standing reputation is due to the fact that internationally recognized grape varieties of high caliber such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are all native to France!

By studying French wine, the student gains a deeper appreciation for the grape and its travels and a reference point for Old World/New World comparisons.

How does this wine study program compare to other certification programs?

Whereas most wine education organizations, such as the WSET and the Society of Wine Educators, cover the world of wine within their tiered levels of certifications, the French Wine Scholar program specializes in French wine only. This allows the student to dig deeper and cover France in depth vs. at a more superficial level.

How often is the course content updated?

Almost every year! The French Wine Scholar study manual is the most comprehensive and current text on the wines of France in print.

The 5th edition, printed in 2013, not only underwent a complete update, but a complete reformatting as well. A foundation unit was added to cover general French wine law, grape varieties plus viticulture and winemaking.

Chapters were added for the Jura and Savoie. The food and wine sections were overhauled to present regional French food and drink traditions only (vs. matching French wines with international cuisines).

Learning objectives and review questions were added as an online supplement.

Lastly, all teaching materials and online modules were updated to match the new manual.

The next edition will come in 2016.

Is this an accredited course of study?

Accreditation is solicited by individual learning institutions and in accordance with county or state educational guidelines. There is no country-wide or global blanket of accreditation for the French Wine Scholar program.


Currently, the French Wine Scholar Program is an accredited course of study, i.e. conferring college credits at:

  • Salt Lake City Community College
  • The Art Institute of Vancouver


Is this an accredited course of study?

What are the benefits of the program?

The program deepens and strengthens the student’s knowledge of French wine.  For those in the wine trade, knowledge is sales. Serious wine hobbyists become more educated consumers.

Successful completion of the program confers a post-nominal (John Smith, FWS). This may be incorporated into a professional signature and added to the resumé. For individuals hoping to start a second career in wine, this credential provides a strong knowledge base enabling a job applicant to enter the industry from a position of strength.

Who endorses the program?

The Wine Scholar Guild and the French Wine Scholar Program have received endorsements from many:

  • The French Ministry of Agriculture
  • Diageo
  • Maisons Marques & Domaines
  • Pasternak Wine Imports
  • Robert Kacher Selections
  • Vintage ’59 Imports
  • Louis Latour Inc
  • Wilson Daniels Ltd.

How was the French Wine Scholar program created?

The French Wine Scholar program was created by the Wine Scholar Guild with the support of the French Ministry of Agriculture in 2009.

The following Inter-Professional organizations also shared resources, information and assistance:

Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace, Inter Beaujolais, Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne, Alliance des Crus Bourgeois, Conseil des Vins de Saint-Emilion, Syndicat des Vins de Sauternes-Barsac, Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, Office of Champagne, InterLoire, Bureau  Interprofessionnel des Vins du Centre - Vins du Centre Loire, Inter-Rhône, Syndicat des Vignerons de Cairanne, Fédération des Syndicats de producteurs de Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Syndicat de la Clairette et des Vins du Diois, Cru Gigondas, Syndicat des vins de Tavel, Conservatoire des AOC de Beaumes de Venise, Comité des Vignerons de Vinsobres, AOC Costières de Nîmes, 2000 Vins d'Ardèche, Avignon Tourisme, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc, Syndicat des Producteurs de Vin de pays d'Oc, Inter Oc, Sud de France, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence, Vins de Bandol, Office de Tourisme de Cassis, Office de Tourisme de Saint Rémy de Provence, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Sud Ouest, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de la Région de Bergerac, Maison des Vins et du Terroir du Jurançon, Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins de Cahors, Service de la navigation du Sud-Ouest, Comité Intersyndical des Vins de Corse, France Agrimer, and the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine).

Who is this program designed for?

  • Aspiring wine professionals looking to enter the wine industry with serious knowledge on the wines of France
  • Advanced wine professionals hoping to specialize in the wines of France
  • Francophiles whose main interest is everything French

What is the French Wine Scholar program?

The French Wine Scholar Certification Program is a course of study on the wines and wine regions of France. It is an advanced curriculum tailored to the wine trade and to serious wine hobbyists.

Distance Learning Format

How long to I have access to the E-Learning Package?

Registration is for one full year and may be extended for a nominal fee should you need or want to do so. Online access is 24/7.

Do you offer the E-learning Package independent of exam and manual?

Yes. The online program alone is ideal for those who wish to learn about French wine in an interactive format without certification as the end goal.

Are there other distance-learning options?

Yes. You many also simply order the study manual and online exam sit and study on your own.

What does the distance learning format entail?

French Wine Scholar Study Manual, E-Learning Package accessible during one-year, Exam on-line.


French Wine Scholar Study Manual:

The 280-page, full-color study manual provides all the information from which the test questions are derived. You do not need to research you own study materials; everything you need to know is in the manual.


French Wine Scholar E-Learning Package:

To complement the manual, there are 20 multimedia E-learning modules with full audio narration plus…

  • A comprehensive series of recorded webinars on regional wine styles with suggested wine list
  • Review quizzes for self-evaluation
  • Instructor Q&A forum for personal assistance
  • Student forum for community interaction
  • Downloadable maps


French Wine Scholar Online Exam:

You have one-year from the registration date to take your exam. When you are ready to sit the exam, contact the Office Manager, Celine Camus, at to schedule an online exam sit, 4 weeks in advance. Candidates will need a computer with internet hook up, a webcam and a microphone.  Note: It is recommended that you sit for your exam within 12 months of your registration. As the manual is updated very often, you’ll want to be tested on the material that you studied.


This full distance-learning study package is designed to provide you with all the pertinent information in multiple formats to enhance retention and deepen understanding.

Classroom Study Format

How long do the classes run?

Each program provider schedules classes based on their particular market.

Some will run 2- to 3-hour classes for nine consecutive weeks, others will do a shorter run of classes with longer hours. Each program provider is different.

If I take French Wine Scholar classes, do I take my exam online?

No. You will take a paper exam in the classroom at the end of the seminar series.

How do you approve of an instructor?

Our instructors already have wine credentials from other wine certifying organizations such as WSET and the Society of Wine Educators before they enter our instructor network. They must sit and pass the French Wine Scholar exam with a score of 85 or higher in order to teach. (Minimal passing score for non-instructors is 75.)

Once they have successfully passed the exam, they participate in Wine Scholar Guild educator trips to France in order to get hands-on experience in the wine, food and culture of each wine region.

Is the classroom experience the same world-wide?

All Approved Program Providers teach from the same Wine Scholar Guild-developed Powerpoint presentations and are supplied with uniform teaching materials. Naturally, each instructor has a unique teaching style, the wine selection will vary by market, the class length and class structure (weekly, biweekly, weekends etc.) will vary from location to location, but the content will be the same no matter where you take the class.

Where are classes offered?

There are French Wine Scholar program providers in the USA,Canada , Singapore, Hong Kong,  Shanghai, and France. Click HERE to find a program provider near you.

How are the French Wine Scholar classes conducted?

Classes are offered by licensed program providers and delivered by an approved FWS instructor. The live classroom package includes:

  • Manual
  • Tutored Tastings
  • Access to the complete E-Learning Package*
  • Exam Sit


Wine Scholar Guild-developed teaching materials are used in the classroom.  They are visually attractive, easy-to-read and easy-to-follow.



To complement the manual and class instruction, there are 20 multimedia E-learning modules with full audio narration plus…

  • A comprehensive series of recorded webinars on regional wine styles with suggested wine list
  • Review quizzes for self-evaluation
  • Instructor Q&A forum for personal assistance
  • Student forum for community interaction
  • Downloadable maps


For many, the classroom experience helps to hammer home the theory; a tutored tasting component brings each region to life. Additionally, there is interaction in a live classroom environment that distance-learning lacks; many students find the set “schedule” helpful in keeping on top of their studies.

About the FWS Exam

How are the exam results transmitted?

Distance-Learning students and students studying through program providers in the United States: Exam results are sent to each individual by letter by postal service.

Students studying through program providers based outside of the United States: Exam results are mailed out to the program provider by postal service. The program provider will provide the exam results to their students.

Is this a beginner-level exam?

No. This is an advanced exam conferring a professional post-nominal. It is helpful to have a solid, general wine background before embarking of this course of study.

What is the pass rate?

Sixty-five percent, i.e. 65% of the people who sit the exam, pass it.


The Wine Scholar Guild wants the French Wine Scholar designation to be meaningful and a true point of pride. To that end, the exam is difficult, yet fair.

Are there honors or awards?

Yes. Candidates scoring 85-90 pass with HONORS. Candidates scoring 91-100 pass with HIGHEST HONORS.


Each year, the Wine Scholar Guild honors the highest scorer of the year with the WSG Award of Excellence.

What does a passing score confer?

You will receive a letter of congratulations, lapel pin and an attractive certificate suitable for framing plus you will be able to include the FWS post-nominal as part of your professional signature (i.e. John  Smith, FWS).

Is the test “open book”?

No.  Both paper exams and online exams are proctored. No books, notes, maps or other materials can be on your desk, on the walls, or on the computer screen when you sit the exam.


How can I take the exam?

Program providers schedule test dates at the end of their classroom instruction. These exams are paper exams.


Distance-Learning students may schedule an online exam sit by contacting 4 weeks advance, WSG Office Manager, Celine Camus, at  To sit an online exam, you must have a computer outfitted with microphone, a webcam and internet connection.

Why is there a webinar series on wine styles by region when there is no tasting component to the exam?

You cannot study wine in a vacuum. Tasting helps to reinforce the theory and deepen your appreciation for the region.

What is the format for the exam?

The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.  Passing score is 75 or higher. Educators intending to teach the program must pass with a score of 85 or higher.


There is no tasting component to this exam. You have one hour to complete the test.

Study Tips

Do you have a suggested study strategy?

Yes.  Read through the Foundation Unit in its entirety before actually studying the individual chapters within it. Do this for the North and for the South also. First read each section through in its entirety before going back to study each individual chapter.  Work with a highlighter. Highlight new terms. Study the maps.


Check off the learning objectives as you master them. They are available at HERE. Confirm content retention by working through the quizzes.

How long should I spend in study?

There are 19 chapters in the manual.  Some chapters are longer than others, but the smaller units (Jura and Savoie, for example) might contain the most amount of new information.  For this reason, we recommend spending an average of four hours per chapter. In sum, you should plan on approximately 100 hours of book time in preparation.  This, however, is a broad generalization. You will need more study time if you do not have a strong wine background.

What do I need to know for the test?

Perhaps this question is best answered by discussing what you do not need to know: dates AOCs were granted, percentages of grapes in the blend, production numbers, and food traditions.

Focus on what grapes are grown where, what AOCs belong to what wine region, rivers, mountains and other topographical markers, climate types, soil types and unique grape growing or wine making attributes specific to each region.

Know your grapes! You will need to know which regions have classification systems and how those classification systems are structured, but you do not need to memorize every château on the list. History is important. Spend some time working with the maps. Know where things are located.


Is the online study program Ipad compatible?

The online study program will soon be fully compatible with the Ipad. Currently, Ipad cannot play Flash content.  As a stop-gap measure, use the “Puffin” app as a web browswer. While not perfect, it does a respectable job.

Next Steps

Can the Master-Level exams be taken online also?

Master-Level exams can be taken online or in the classroom if there is a participating program provider.

To schedule an online exam sit, please contact 4 weeks in advance, WSG Office Manager, Celine Camus, at

How are the Master-Level exams formatted?

There are three sections:

  • 50 multiple-choice questions (50 points)
  • A map identification exercise (10 points)
  • 4 essay questions (40 points)

This tri-part format tests your knowledge of the lay of the land and mastery of the core facts as well as your ability to integrate those facts into a meaningful whole. The essays require more than a simple recitation of fact; they require a working knowledge and deep understanding of the material.

Candidates are given 90 minutes to complete the exam.

Does the program provider network offer Master-Level programs also?

Yes.  Some teach the programs; others offer one-day reviews with tutored tasting. Check for specific courses HERE.

Do I have to be a French Wine Scholar to enroll in a Master-Level program?

No, but you’ll get so much more out of any Master-Level program if you are already conversant in French wine.

Are the Master-Level programs formatted the same as the French Wine Scholar program?

No. Instruction is provided by way of downloadable reading assignments and/or a study manual plus a series of corresponding "core" webinars delivered by a lead instructor and supplemental webinars delivered by guest instructors.

All presenters are experts in their field. Webinars have been conducted by Fiona Morrison, MW, Matthew Stubbs, MW, Allen Meadows aka Burghound, Andrew Jefford, author of "The New France", Karen MacNeil creator and chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California and more.

The Master-Level programs run live periodically with students attending a scheduled run of webinars. These webinars are recorded so that students may access them again later for review.

The same Master-Level programs have also been independently recorded without an audience. These recorded programs are available "on-demand" 24/7 and are available for independent study.

Under both formats, students have access to the lead instructors via online forum. In essence, the student studies Bordeaux under Dewey Markham Jr., author of "1855: A History of the Bordeaux Classification". Students study Burgundy under Don Kinnan, CWE and former Education Director for Kobrand. Your lead instructor shepherds you through your program.

Do the Master-Level programs confer a post-nominal?

No. These are certificate programs.

How can I continue my French wine studies?

At present, there are Master-Level programs for Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence.  Master-Level programs for Loire are in development and are slated for release in 2017.

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