CMS vs WSET vs CSW

So I passed my Certified last year and am looking to continue to advance my wine knowledge as much as possible.

In saying as such I am curious to hear some of the communities feedback on all there various certifications out there.

I have enrolled in WSET3 this fall and was considering going for CSW as well.

Is this too broad? Am I making too many lateral steps as opposed to forward?

Please let me know

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  • I’m taking WSET 3 currently.  I think WSET 3 and CMS are roughly equivalent in the actual level of knowledge required (I only passed my intro CMS so far but I’m going based on talking to other people), with WSET 3 focusing more on winemaking style and CMS focusing more on producers and service (the only mention I can think of 75% of the way into my WSET 3 course so far is one sentence on the first growths).  The distinction in what makes each exam difficult is that Certified obviously requires the service portion and WSET requires four essays on their exam, with two wines instead of 4 (you don’t have to identify varietal or specific vintage), but there’s also no list of testable varietals it could be pretty much anything.

    For the tasting with WSET 3 you’ll have to become familiar with their systematic approach to tasting which in many ways is similar to CMS deductive tasting format but instead of just listing characteristics you have to distinguish them into primary secondary and tertiary.  

    Primary are basic fruit and certain non fruit characteristics such as minerality, secondary are decisions made by winemaker such as oak, lees contact, and MLF, and tertiary are characteristics that occur with age.  Tertiary characteristics such as mushroom, leather, petrol. In other words, if you have a youthful Riesling expressing petrol aromas or flavors you can’t write it in your tasting note. Or a youthful Pinot noir with mushroom or youthful Brunello with leather, can’t write it in your tasting note because you’re only allowed to write those things for developing wines. This took a lot of getting used to for me.

    All that said, my APP (Amanti Vino in NJ, the one in Montclair specifically) is amazing and I’m loving every minute of it.  Im using it in part to help prepare me for Certified, as I’m sure the studying you did for Certified will be a huge advantage for you in your WSET 3 class/exam.

    Hope that was helpful.  Where are you taking WSET 3?  Best of luck passing with distinction!  Remember that nothing on multiple choice or essay is anything not in your 200 page textbook.

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