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John Fiola

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WSET Certificaton - Worth it?

by John Fiola » Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:45 pm

All,
I'm in the middle of taking the Intermediate Level course of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust certification course (WSET). I'm pondering moving on and taking the advanced level courses and am seeking opinions. The advanced levels require considerable time and money, so moving on requires some thought.

Since I'm not in the trade, should I move on to the advanced levels?
For those in the trade, is the certification worth it?
( I would value opinions from both the US and internationally)

Could I use it to do someting on a part-time basis? Teaching? Retail? Restraunt?

All opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
John
Cheers,
John
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Jeff in Halifax

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WSET

by Jeff in Halifax » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:41 am

Is this a correspondence course?

Wine "experts" around here who have only taken WSET via correspondence illustrate very much the value of a group environment when learning how to taste wine in a structured manner. There are exceptions, of course, but these "experts" generally deserve the quotes around the word.

At some point, and this is only my opinion, you need to take a course from a real person, with real people.
You should care about what you drink - you do put it in your mouth, don't you?
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Peter May

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Re: WSET Certificaton - Worth it?

by Peter May » Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:40 pm

John Fiola wrote:All,
Since I'm not in the trade, should I move on to the advanced levels?
For those in the trade, is the certification worth it?
( I would value opinions from both the US and internationally)

Could I use it to do someting on a part-time basis? Teaching? Retail? Restraunt?



I did the first two certificates in the 1980's and enjoyed them greatly. At that time wasn't permitted to do the diploma but I would have if Icould. I know people who have done the diploma recently -- its two years work and expensive - but they've enjoyed and got jobs in the business. Its the path to MW, and I think it is the most recognised qualification - certaininly in the UK, and most useful if you are lookingfor employment in any associated area.

Only you know what your future direction is, and whether youwnat to commit to furthercertification.

YOu could use what you have to get employment in the business (if that is what you want) and then get your employer to sponsor you through further qualifications. ON the other hand, if you've got the job you may not want to.

Bythe way, have you read thepost by the trainee in a restaurant on teh other board -- http://community.netscape.com/n/pfx/for ... winelovers
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John Fiola

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Live classroom

by John Fiola » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:26 pm

I'm taking the course in a live classroom setting.


I'm not really sure where I want this to go. I figure that taking the first few steps will help me think about what I really want.

I'm very happy in my current career, but wouldn't mind doing something part-time. Only time will tell.
Cheers,
John
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Graeme Gee

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Re: WSET Certificaton - Worth it?

by Graeme Gee » Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:27 pm

I'm doing the Advanced course (level 3 according to the paperwork) here in Sydney at the moment. It's Wednesday nights for 10 weeks, 2½ hrs per session with a 2-hr exam at the end. There are plenty of powerpoint slides of maps and regions and basically shorn-down version of the detail you find in Robinson's Atlas and Stevenson's Sothebys Encyclopedia, but I gather at this level the emphasis is supposed to be more on structured tastings. We're only at week 2, and after a fairly dry first evening (on vineyard management, climate, vine diseases, bare-bones wine production) we're starting serious regional study & tasting (Grand Cru burgundy was a pleasant surprise last Wednesday).

I don't know how much more advanced the Diploma is; I'm only doing the Advanced for interest (I'm a company accountant in the pharma business, not ITB in any way) and for the A$900 (US$600/£400) the course costs I figured it was money well enough spent. I'm not the only 'amateur' in the room, but we're a distinct minority.

Given the tasting component, distance learning would be something of a challenge (and expensive); I gather the Intermediate course is less demanding in this regard.

cheers,
Graeme
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John Fiola

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Structured Tastings

by John Fiola » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:05 pm

The intermediate course has solidified/ codified a lot of the knowledge that I have learned over the years.

If something fell into my lap, I wouldn't refuse it. I wouldn't mind shaking some trees to get something to fall.

I checked out the post about the trainee from Toledo. That's probably why most people have a hard time with wines. Those in the know usually are overshadowed.

There seems like there is a need for people with good wine knowledge and know how to teach that knowledge. It doesn't take a MW to educate the basics. It would be like a PhD as a requirement to teach elementary school.


btw I work as an Information Technology person in the Pharma business here in the states.
Cheers,
John
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Bonnie in Holland

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Re: WSET Certificaton - Worth it?

by Bonnie in Holland » Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:47 am

John,
Whether you move on to the higher WSET levels, seems to me, to depend on what you want to do in wine and how determined you are. It's a tough one to call.

I started out with a Dutch wine certificate (similar to the WSET Advanced Certificate before it became a touch harder). That was just to learn more about wine as a serious hobby but the bug hit me during the course of that. A bit later, Holland's sole Master of Wine started up WSET courses here in Holland (I am an American living in Holland, by the way) so I jumped at this opportunity with the hope someday of working in wine, not knowing what but determined to at least try. Consequently, almost three years ago, I started the Diploma Course (it was required to take the Advanced Certificate test and get that certification first, which I did). The Diploma Course turns out to be hugely difficult - it is completely oriented to professionals; whereas even the Advanced WSET course is still for serious hobbyists, the Diploma Course is completely for trade folks. Night and day kind of stuff. It is very difficult to pass the Diploma Course if you are not already in the trade, just given the amount of tasting and business expertise it involves/assumes. I am only one of three folks who are not in the wine business and am finding it very difficult. However, the good news is that, of the fifteen elements (including papers, tasting portfolios, exams), I have managed to pass thirteen and just have the wine theory exam and fortified spirits exam to pass at this point before I manage to achieve the Diploma. I may not succeed, but this all goes to show that it is do-able if one works really hard, spends a lot of money on bottles, has huge determination and is prepared for a major time commitment. (The other two non-professionals in the class, by the way, are finding it very very hard going and seem to be unlikely to go the full route -- they both have jobs to contend with. I don'tm fortunately, so I have more time to devote to this.) By the end of the Course, if I do pass, I will feel at least confident enough in my knowledge (not backed up by job experience, unfortunately) to apply for jobs in wine.

It seems to me the way to go is to move onto the Advanced Certificate level first, and see how it goes and how you feel at that point. The leap to the Diploma Course is a huge one from there.
cheers, Bonnie

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