As I'm sure most of you are, I'm interested in increasing my level of professional certification in wine. I'm employed in the wine industry, but I do not work on a restaurant floor and have no ambition to so. From talking to people in similar situations, I've found that a popular choice is to pursue those certificates offered from either the WSET or the Society of Wine Educators (although a fair number of folks seem to stick with the Court anyway even though they do not work on the hospitality side). I was curious to see what the community's thoughts were on the three different tracks as they would apply to someone in my situation.
I currently hold a CSW certificate from the SWE. I also passed the Intro course with the Court, but since it was back in 2012, I believe I would need to re-take the course before sitting for the Certified. I do not hold any certifications from WSET, but I am interested in that track as well.
Thanks so much,
WSET is a good path to go. Especially if you are not service side. I would recommend starting with WSET 2 if you have passed the Intro in the court.
There is also French and Italian Wine scholar accreditations which can boost your resume.
I've done WSET 2 and 3, and I REALLY enjoyed them, but in my opinion it's really only worth it if you physically go to a class and taste a bunch of wines as you learn. If you're only taking the courses online, I think you'd be missing out.
I'll echo the positive comments about WSET. I've done level 3 and have completed all the diploma coursework. I'm in the process wrapping up the unit 1 paper now. I would put level 3 on par with studying for certified (at least for me) and the diploma on par with (what I imagine to be) studying for the advanced. Spirits is being pulled from the diploma next year, but if the level 3 spirits class is anything like the diploma unit 4 spirits course, I'd suggest it too.
Thanks for the insight, everyone.
Has anyone tried for or attained the Certified Wine Educator Certificate from the SWE? I'd be interested in hearing about your experience.
Hi Lou! Jane Nickles here (full disclosure: I work for SWE) - and we have made many recent changes to the CWE. For instance, theory (multiple choice + essay) exams are now available by appointment at Pearson Vue Testing Centers, we have an updated Candidate Manual, and we have a comprehensive study site (including study schedules for every book on the recommended reading list and literally hundreds of practice quizzes). You can read more about the CWE here: www.societyofwineeducators.org/.../certified-wine-educator
Lou, I completed my CWE in 2014. The emphasis is on wine education, critical thinking and being able to answer questions effectively at the level of the person asking the question without just doing a data dump.
The depth of theory is probably between Certified and Advanced for the exam, with an emphasis on organization of thought and writing skills using your theory knowledge for the essay. The tasting section of the exam is much more comprehensive than the CMS Level II including defects as well as identification and description.
Since a large part of what I do is wine education, this was probably my best investment for a certification, with the Certified Somm exam being the same for service oriented experience. I highly recommend it to learn to become a better educator.
To paraphrase what one of the staff at SWE told me before my presentation portion, "We know you know this stuff. We want to know ifyou can teach it"
I hope this helps.
Big fan of SWE and their programs.
Jim, have you noticed an uptick in quality and quantity of opportunities with the CWE credential? I have a friend considering this path, she has a CWS already. What sort of recognition does the CWE carry among the public?
Scott, I have definitely noticed a difference, particularly with people within the industry who are more familiar with the program. It's like having a green pin compared to being a Certified Sommelier. The degree of difficulty needed to achieve the CWE over the CSW gives added street cred, which is supported by the number of people who have achieved CWE compared to those with a CSW.
If your friend is interested in pursuing Wine Education in any serious way, I would suggest it. It's not just "another certification" to pursue, and it's probably not for everyone, but I can tell you that it has formed by approach toward what I do in a very positive way and has opened some doors.
Having said all of this, and for the benefit of those reading this who might be considering the CWE or any other certification, getting an advanced certification is not the end of any effort, just as graduating from college is not the end but the beginning of your career. The world is not going unfold at your feet the day after you get your pin. It's up to us to use the knowledge we gained from all that effort and take it to the next level. The pin might help, but the abilities you gain and how you use them are what create the opportunities that result.