First of all, I want to welcome you into my crazy wine education journey!
This is the first of many blog entries, I’m sure. But it’s probably the single post that freaks me out the most, because inviting you into this part of my wine life means it’s really happening! And that’s exciting…if not a little overwhelming at times, too! But no matter what, I’m embarking on something pretty epic right now — especially when Lou and I are just launching this website and creating the culture inside of our Crush Collection! But there’s no time like the present for me to plunge in — head-first, no less! And the truth is, I want to share every part of this journey with you on this blog.
So with that part out of the way, you might be asking yourself, “What is the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines?”
That’s a fair question! It seems important to share what this is and how this wine education path differs from a sommelier certification (because I’m asked this question all the time). WSET stands for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust — which is a globally recognized certifying body of wine education. This program is geared toward those who will work in wine communications — such as journalism, education, and other areas of trade — whereas Sommelier certifications are geared more towards those in the service industry. This pathway is an excellent fit for me because I’m passionate about educating others on wine and wellness, and how exploring everything there is to know about wine can add so much to the enjoyment of the wine in your glass.
On a side note, because of the movie series SOMM, most people are more familiar with Master Sommeliers (MS), which is the highest level of certification a sommelier can attain from The Court of Master Sommeliers. A Master of Wine (MW) from the Institute of the Masters of Wine is the highest level of wine education that follows the WSET Diploma Level Certification. To pursue the MW, you must first complete the WSET Diploma level, or have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in wine. As of earlier this year, there are just over 260 Master Sommeliers, and just over 400 Masters of Wine — which is clearly a pretty elite group of people!
But the easiest way I can describe it to you is to say that the WSET Level 4 Diploma is like getting a Master’s Degree in Wine, while becoming an MW is like getting a PhD in Wine.
So now back to my journey specifically. There are two parts to the WSET Diploma Certification: Theory and Tasting. The theory component includes understanding viticulture, enology, wine business, as well as knowing the various wines and wine regions throughout the world.
The tasting component requires us to be able to blindly taste wine to identify various characteristics such as appearance, aromas, and taste, and then use this sensory information to deduce the wine varietal, region, and quality of the wine.
This takes lots of practice tasting wines from all over the world, but I think I’m up to the task!
The Diploma Level is divided into five sections and I must pass each section before I can move on to the next one. Once I pass those five parts (fingers crossed!), then I am required to complete a research assignment on a specified wine related topic. To complete the entire program can take as little as 18 months to complete, but they allow up to 3 years for completion.
It’s an exciting journey to be starting, and I’ll try to check-in once a week or every couple of weeks to share the insight I’ve gained — or how wrong I was on one of the tastings! I already know that approaching wine with a humble heart opens up so much more in every taste. So I plan to forge ahead, one step at a time and let the adventure take me to new and exciting places inside the incredible world of wine!
And who knows?
Maybe my story will inspire you to begin your own journey with wine! And, maybe like me, you’ll fall in love with this beautiful expression of grapes that is transformed into something that’s way more than just a fancy beverage!
Stay tuned for a post from my first week…