Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, September 28 2023

Wine Education

By: Geoffrey Moss MW
How to pursue your passion

There is no shortage of options to further your wine education.

There is no shortage of options to further your wine education. Whether you want to become a Master of Wine or learn the difference between Syrah and Shiraz, here are some options to get you started on the right path.

WSET: The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, or WSET for short, is arguably the global standard for wine education. It’s widely recognized worldwide and is a prerequisite for many jobs in the trade. There are four levels – from the introductory one-day Level 1 course to the advanced 18-month Level 4 Diploma, a stepping stone to the Master of Wine program. The courses are equally suited to enthusiasts, though you have to be prepared to write an exam. Don’t worry: Levels 1 and 2 are multiple-choice. 

Court of Master Sommeliers: Students of wine often take one of two branches: WSET or the Court of Master Sommeliers programming. The latter is especially well-suited to hospitality workers, focusing on service, something almost entirely lacking in WSET courses. The Court, as it's referred to, offers three courses – Introductory Sommelier, Certified Sommelier, and Advanced Sommelier, followed by the Master Sommelier examination. WSET may have a broader syllabus, with more attention paid to the business of wine, but the Court emphasizes knowing the intricacies of key wine-growing regions.

Wine Scholar Guild: For those who want to specialize in a specific country or region, the Wine Scholar Guild offers a range of well-priced study programs. Their core courses are the French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, and Spanish Wine Scholar, but they also offer master-level courses for three classic wine regions: Champagne, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. The Wine Scholar Guild courses are offered by Cru Consultancy in both Victoria and Vancouver.

Canadian wine courses: Learn about Canadian wine in a snappy, one-day course created by David Lawrason and offered through Fine Vintage across the country. Or explore BC wine through the Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program. 

Online courses: There are a range of online courses available for those looking to study from the comfort of home. That includes WSET courses, though many students prefer in-class sessions to benefit from the structured, guided tastings. More casual options include WineFolly. Their Wine 101 and Wine 201 courses are fun, well-made courses that include engaging illustrations and videos. Napa Valley Wine Academy also offers regionally focused online courses that include Oregon, Argentina, and Georgia.

Regardless of what path you choose, the best learning still comes from reading, watching, visiting wineries, and tasting. The GOW YouTube channel is a great place to start. And, best of all, it’s free. If you want to bring the theory you learn in the classroom to life with in-depth winery tours and tastings, join me next year for my four-day WSET Level 2 Okanagan Bootcamp. 

Written By:
Geoffrey Moss MW
Geoffrey Moss MW

Geoffrey Moss MW, a wine reviewer/critic and contributor at Gismondi on Wine, earned his Master of Wine in August 2020. Born in Ontario, with a degree from McGill University in Political Science, Moss' resume includes working for premium brands, including with Don Triggs and family at Culmina Estate Winery, and then as part of the team for the ambitious, 100-million-dollar Phantom Creek Estates project, seeing its brand and winery emerge from scratch to full realization. Moss opened Lithica Wine Marketing in 2019. He runs his wine consulting business from Penticton, British Columbia, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley.