Building on our overview of how Wine Scholar Guild programs can complement and be articulated with other, more general wine study programs, we would like to propose a deeper look at our understanding of how Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and Wine Scholar Guild programs can complement each other.
The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is a UK-based organization, established in 1969. Its programs are run in over 70 countries and reach over 90,000 students each year. The programs are very respected and the WSET Diploma is widely considered the gold standard in broad-based wine education. Furthermore, the WSET cursus is considered as the natural path toward entering the coveted Master of Wine program offered and administered by the Institute of Masters of Wine.
WSET Level 1 Award in Wines
This course is aimed at new wine students and provides an introduction to the main styles of wines available today. Students also gain insight into wine and food pairing techniques and are introduced to the WSET systematic approach to tasting. It is generally taught as a 1-day course and a manual is provided.
There are also Level 1 Awards in Spirits and Sake.
WSET Level 2 Intermediary Award in Wines and Spirits
WSET level 2 explores the key grape varieties, where they are grown, and the key factors that influence the style, quality, and price of wines and spirits. Students develop their familiarity with the systematic approach to wine tasting. Wine students, who have some knowledge of wine, often elect to start their wine education at this level.
This is generally taught as a 3-day course. Comprehensive study materials are provided.
There is also a Level 2 Award in Spirits.
WSET Level 3 Advanced Award in in Wines and Spirits
This course provides a more in-depth and comprehensive look at the world of wines and spirits with an intense focus on systematically and professionally tasting and evaluating wines. All major wine growing regions of the world are covered and the critical factors of climate, soil, weather, viticulture and winemaking are covered.
This is generally taught over 4- to 6-days. Comprehensive study materials are provided.
There is also a Level 3 Award in Sake.
WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits
The Level 4 Diploma is the WSET’s flagship qualification. The course is divided into six units: business of wine, production of wine, light wines of the world, sparkling wines, fortified wines, and spirits. Each unit is tested separately using a variety of methods: multiple-choice, short-answer, essay, case study, and blind tastings.
The diploma typically takes a minimum of two years to complete. Resources are supplied, but there is also an expectation of self-directed study.
How Wine Scholar Guild and WSET wine education programs can complement each other?
WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3
WSET offers their level 1,2 and 3 students with comprehensive study materials.
This being said, repetition and deepening can help students of general wine study programs such as CSW to integrate and absorb the large amount of information required for them to master.
WSG member webinars, led by wine industry experts, cover the fundamentals of viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, wine tasting and wine service. Webinars such as “Viti 101” and "Postmodern Winemaking" can be valuable resources to students preparing for such more general wine study programs.
Post WSET Level 3
WSET Level 3 certification will give wine students a strong foundation to enter our Wine Scholar Programs and Master-Level programs from a position of strength. While not a pre-requisite, we encourage students to follow a program such as the WSET's Level 3 before entering our Wine Scholar Programs and Master-Level programs.
There is a significant jump in depth and commitment between WSET level 3 and level 4. If you are not ready yet to embark on the rigorous Diploma, the country-specific Wine Scholar programs are an excellent way to continue learning. They offer a deeper dive into France, Italy and, soon, Spain.
With WSG programming, each country’s foundation unit puts that country’s history, wine laws, grape varieties, viticulture, and winemaking practices into perspective before covering each of the individual wine regions with respect to regional history, climate, topography and soils, appellations, wine styles, and regional food and wine pairings.
Optional, in-class tastings provide the opportunity to build familiarity with key wine styles.
If you want to challenge yourself further, WSG Master-Level programs give the opportunity to independently study one of the classic wine regions of the world like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne – perhaps one that has always fascinated or confused you?
WSET Diploma Level
Candidates for WSET Diploma need to acquire a profound and deep knowledge of most aspects of the world of wine. As preparation for this program is mostly done through self-study, we believe that our programs can be a great resource to complement the studies of WSET Diploma candidates.
The WSG Master-Level programs build on the Wine Scholar Programs and allow you to master the complexity of specific regions. The programs cover appellations, climate, geology, grape varieties, wine law, regional cuisine and trends. This is important information for advanced students such as those aiming for WSET Diploma.
Membership in the Wine Scholar Guild allows access to wine education videos with leading industry experts. These provide unique opportunities to gain insight into current wine trends and issues and represent an essential tool to building the knowledge expected at this advanced level.
WSG study trips are led by regional experts and allow you to “get up close and personal” with all the important wine regions. These are unparalleled opportunities to really master and understand the complexities of a region.
Explore in greater detail how WSG programs fit with the offerings of the leading general wine education bodies:
- For Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) students and graduates
- For Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) students and graduates
- For Society of Wine Educators (SWE) students and graduates
NOTE: We have tried to describe WSET programs to the best of our knowledge and research and to explain how our programs complement them. These statements reflect our own opinion and do not reflect the opinion or endorsement of the WSET. We welcome all comments and suggestions on this article.