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About the Italian Wine Scholar Exam

To become an Italian Wine Scholar and receive the IWS credential candidates need to pass the exams for Unit 1 and Unit 2 with a composite score of 75%

The scores from both exams are added together and averaged for final assessment.

Students with a composite score of 85-90.5 pass with HONORS. Candidates scoring 91-100 pass with HIGHEST HONORS.

Passing the exam for unit 1 or unit 2 alone does not confer the Italian Wine Scholar credential.

Preparing for the exam:

In order to prepare properly for the exam, you must read and study the manual carefully. At first, it may seem a daunting body of knowledge to tackle…but we would like to give you a few tips.

What facts are important?

  • Pay close attention to superlatives (biggest, smallest, highest, lowest, newest, oldest, youngest).  Note the facts associated with words such as “first” and “last.” They make for good exam questions.
  • Learn the Italian wine terms and their English equivalents.
  • Know your soils, geography, mountains and rivers.
  • Know your grapes and their synonyms.
  • Become conversant in Italy’s DOC(G)s and the primary grape(s) grown within their confines.
  • Know your history and the key individuals who have figured prominently in the development of the wine culture of any given region.
  • Study the specifics of wine production for white, rosé, red, sparkling, late-harvest, and passitos.
  • Study your maps. You need to know where the wine regions and their DOC(G)s are located.
  • Pay attention to the need-to-know icons.

The exam is comprehensive. It will cover all the wine regions of Italy. This means you must study everything!


Exam FAQs:

About the Exam

Is the exam 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.

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.

How are the results transmitted?

Exam results for each individual Unit are transmitted directly to students via email.


When candidates earn the Italian Wine Scholar post-nominal, certificates and lapel pins are transmitted in the following manner:

*Distance-Learning students and students studying through program providers in the United States: sent to each individual by mail.

*Students studying through program providers based outside of the United States: mailed out to the program provider by postal service. The program provider will then provide them to their successful students.

What do I get after I sit the exam for my first unit?

After your exam is graded, you receive your results via email. Passing only one unit does not confer a certificate or post-nominal.

Can I move on to the second unit if I do not reach 75% on my first unit exam? Should I retake my first exam before registering for unit 2?

It's up to you. You may re-sit the exam for which you scored under 75 if you are more comfortable mastering that content before moving on or you may move on to the next unit in the hopes of scoring high enough to give you a composite score of 75 or higher.

Please note that all exam re-takes incur an additional fee. Obviously, it is best to be prepared for each exam the first time you sit.

There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit

What happens after I sit the exam for my second unit?

After your second exam is graded, you receive a results letter, and if your composite score for both units is above 75%, you receive a certificate and lapel pin.

What if I score below 75% on one unit and my composite score for both units does not average 75%?

You may register to retake the exam for the unit for which you did not reach 75%. There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit.

What if I have a score below 75% on both units?

You start by retaking the exam for the unit for which you had the lowest score. If your new composite score is above 75%, you pass. If not, you may register to retake the exam for the other unit. There is an $180 fee for retaking an exam. Follow these links to register for: IWS Unit 1 Exam Resit - IWS Unit 2 Exam Resit

What do I need to know for the exam?

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

Focus on what grapes are grown where, what DOC/Gs 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! Spend some time working with the maps. Know where things are located. Know the champions (producers and people) of a particular DOC/G if mentioned.

How long should I spend in study?

There are 8 to 12 chapters in the manual depending on the Unit.  Some chapters are longer than others, but the smaller units might contain the most amount of new information to most students.

For this reason, we recommend spending an average of 8 hours per chapter. In sum, you should plan on approximately 64 to 96 hours of study for each unit.  This, however, is a broad generalization.

You will need more study time if you do not have a strong wine background.

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 regional section also. First read each regional chapter through in its entirety before going back to study it. Work with a highlighter. Highlight new terms and important DOC(G)s. Use blanks maps and locate the most important information such as the DOCGs, grapes, soils, hills and rivers.
Check off the learning objectives as you master them. They are downloadable on your Online Course page. Confirm content retention by working through the online quizzes.

Are there sample test questions?

Yes. There is a twenty-question sample test that accurately conveys the types of questions and the level of difficulty of the actual exam.

How do I schedule my exam(s) and what is needed?

Distance-learning candidates who take their exam on-line must have a computer, internet connection and webcam for proctoring purposes.

Candidates have one year from registration date to take the exam.

When ready, the candidate may contact (1) one month in advance, WSG office manager Celine Camus at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule the exam.

Italian Wine Scholar - Endorsements

  • "We are delighted to support this educational program dedicated to the Wines of Italy"
    Italian Trade Commission
  • "I nostri complimenti per il Vostro lavoro: eccellente"/“Our compliments for your work: excellent"
    Consorzio Vini del Trentino
  • The manual is really well-made, the information on the territory very detailed and accurately researched."
    Consorzio Vini Alto Adige - Südtirol
  • Consorzio Barbera d'Asti e Vini del Monferrato

Industry Testimonials

  • "I have devoured the Italian Wine Scholar manual and found it incredibly well written"
    Ciro Pirone
    Director Italian Wines at Horizon Beverage Group (Boston, MA)
  • "Committed students of wine will love the Italian Wine Scholar manual..."
    Peter Marks MW
    Vice President of Education at Constellation Academy of Wine
  • "I am very impressed with the first edition of the Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 study manual."
    Jeannie Cho Lee MW
    First Asian Master of Wine and award-winning author, wine critic and educator. Contributing Editor for Decanter
  • "I am impressed by the thoroughness of research that has gone into the Italian Wine Scholar study manual"
    Nicolas Belfrage MW
    Author of the acclaimed books on Italian wines “Barolo to Valpolicella” and “Brunello to Zibibbo”
  • "I was very excited to read your first foray into Italy…it did not disappoint!"
    Nicholas Poletto
    Director of Education at Kobrand Corporation
  • "The information is comprehensive, the writing is engaging and the format is easy to follow. Congratulations!"
    Craig Locascio
    South Atlantic Director of Education and Sales Training, Breakthru Beverage Group
  • "An immediate must for the trade at all levels and for any interested consumer.  Bravo!"
    Martin Sinkoff
    VP and Director of Marketing, Frederick Wildman And Sons
  • "In one word, the first edition of Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 study manual is “Exceptional”!"
    Pam Kindel Connors
    Human Resources Business Partner Director, Glazer's Louisiana
  • "It is tightly edited and focused, with a great collection of maps and other graphics as well.”
    Paul Wagner
    Balzac Communication & Italian Wine Marketing specialist
  • "It’s a superb resource to study and dig deep into the wines of Northern Italy"
    Gregory Doody
    President & CEO at Vineyard Brands
  • "WSG has created an impressive and comprehensive curriculum in the ever-changing and always complicated world of Italian wine"
    Alfonso Cevola
    Corporate Director for Italian Wines for Glazer’s. Author of the award-winning blog “On the Wine Trail in Italy”
  • "...an invaluable tool vital to a student’s success in learning about the world’s most diverse wine country"
    Tim Gaiser MS
    Renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier
  • "Invaluable for both the wine professional and dedicated enthusiast alike"
    Susan Hulme MW
    Wine educator and consultant, judge for Decanter’s International Wine & Spirit Competition and Italian wine expert
  • "a scholarly work that is amazingly approachable and accessible, especially considering its comprehensive, encylopedic nature"
    Len Presutti CWE
    Corporate Wine Educator at Martignetti Companies
  • "The first edition of the Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 study manual is rich in details and a great read"
    Chris So
    Founder of WINELIST.HK, a wine media, education and consultancy company in Hong Kong
  • “Italian wine is a complicated topic and your fine work cuts through what could be an overwhelming course of study and makes it very approachable”
    Timothy C. Clark
    National Wine Educator at Terlato Wines

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