Wine & Spirit Education Trust
The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, often referred to as WSET, is a British organisation which arranges courses and exams in the field of wine and spirits. WSET was founded in 1969, is headquartered in London and is generally regarded as one of the world's leading provider of wine education. It grew out of the Wine & Spirit Association’s Education Committee and was set up with the financial assistance of the Vintners’ Company. The management of the WSET reports to a Board of Trustees made up of 8 members; three from The Vintners’ Company, three from the Wine & Spirit Association, one from the Worshipful Company of Distillers and another one from the Institute of Masters of Wine.
The courses given by WSET were originally intended for people in the wine & spirit trade. The WSET programmes have increasingly been attended also by non-professional connoisseurs. The WSET also offers professional certification in the United States, with programs in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The course content of WSET courses has its focus on general theoretical knowledge of the world of wine and spirits (countries and regions of production, regulations, their style of wine and spirits, grape varieties &c.), and practical identification of beverages and their flavours, including wine tasting techniques.
- Level 1
- Level 1 Award in Wines, This qualification was initially created for the front-of-house staff within the on-trade sector. It has grown into a course with global appeal, providing basic product knowledge to first time employees in the wine industry and the interested consumer alike.
- Level 1 Award in Wine Service, This qualification provides an introduction to front line staff wishing to gain basic wine service skills. It can be seen as a quick way to cover the basics for wine service and is ideal for people preparing for their first job in wine service, or those wishing to make a transition to wine service. Please note that to gain this qualification students must also successfully pass the Level 1 Award in Wines or the Level 2 or 3 Award in Wines & Spirits.
- Level 1 Award in Spirits, This qualification aims to provide the basic product knowledge and skills in the service of spirits to help prepare a person for their first job in hospitality or in other sectors of the spirits industry. This course may also appeal to the interested spirits consumer.
- Level 2
- Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, This qualification is popular with wine and spirit employees and will give students excellent all-round product knowledge. The course is also suitable for the interested consumer.
- Level 2 Award in Spirits, This qualification underpins the skills needed in all areas of the spirit trade – customer service, hospitality, retail and wholesale. The course is also appropriate for students who are not employed in the drinks industry and wish to broaden their knowledge of spirits in a structured way.
- Level 3
- Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits, This qualification is open to students who hold the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines & Spirits or can demonstrate the equivalent level of knowledge. It is recommended that students complete the Level 2 Award in Wines & Spirits before progressing to the Level 3 Award. It is a prerequisite for candidates planning to study for the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits qualification.
- International Higher Certificate in Wines and Spirits, This qualification is designed for students for whom English is not their first language, or where the Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits is not available in their mother tongue. The syllabus is aligned to that of the Level 3 Award in Wine & Spirits, but with a different assessment method which does not include short written answer questions or a written tasting note. Students wishing to study towards the WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits will need to complete the WSET Diploma Entry Examination, once they have passed the International Higher Certificate exam. This qualification is only available through WSET International providers only.
- Level 4
- Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits, This qualification is suitable for those working in the trade wishing to progress to roles such as food and beverage management, working as a member of a marketing team responsible for product ranges, a wine buyer, sales executive or other professional role in the wines and spirits industry. This qualification is also suitable for the dedicated wine enthusiast wishing to build on knowledge gained at Level 3 and acquire further expertise in wine tasting. Candidates who successfully pass the diploma are permitted to put AIWS (Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits) after their name.
- Level 5
- Honours Diploma, The WSET Level 5 Honours Diploma is an individual research project that enables students to develop skills in research, evaluation and analysis in a wine and spirit related subject of their choice. This qualification is open to anyone holding the WSET Level 4 Diploma.
- WSET Certified Educator Program
- WSET Certified Educator, WSET offer a training program for candidates who wish to teach WSET courses at an Approved Program Provider. The candidate must have passed the level above the one they wish to teach and after completing the appropriate teaching modules may become a 'Nominated Educator'. Candidates who have passed the Level 4 Diploma and completed all six educator modules and passed the assessment, qualify as a 'WSET Certified Educator'.
WSET's courses are also given by a large number of "Approved Programme Providers" around the world. This has made WSET's course levels the international de facto standard for "practical" knowledge of wine and spirits, outside academic programmes of oenology, viticulture, food technology and similar subjects, where science and engineering aspects of beverage production tend to be in focus.
WSET has created a membership body for WSET Diploma holders called "Institute of Wines & Spirits", and upon completion of the WSET Diploma are permitted to put 'AIWS' (Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits) after their name. Qualification at the WSET Diploma level 4 is generally required to be allowed into the Master of Wine training, which is arranged by a body (The Institute of Masters of Wine) separate from the WSET.
- Ray, Johnathan, The Daily Telegraph (August 29, 2008). "The top wine-tasting courses".
- wset.co.uk WSET: About us, accessed on February 4, 2008
- J. Robinson (ed), The Oxford Companion to Wine, Third Edition, p. 769, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0-19-860990-6
- wsetglobal.com , accessed on March 14, 2015
- wset.co.uk An Introduction to WSET Qualifications, accessed on February 4, 2008
- Institute of Masters of Wine: The Education Programme, accessed on February 4, 2008