Completing the WSET diploma

A bi-line in the recent (and excellent) movie “Somm” stuck in my mind as I toiled away, night after night, week after week, month after month, preparing for the last exam of the¬†Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) diploma:

“[It’s] the hardest exam you’ve never heard of”

I am very pleased to say that I found out earlier in the week that I have in fact passed the last unit of the WSET¬†diploma. ¬†This will mean that I will shortly graduate, become an associate member of the Institute of Wine & Spirits and able to include the post nominal of AIWS after my name. ¬†I am currently feeling a mixture of relief and achievement. ¬†Relief in that after nearly 2.5 years work I completed the diploma “first go” with good grades. ¬†Achievement in that it took quite a lot of sustained effort in a discipline unrelated to anything I have studied previously to get through.

If you are somewhat obsessive about wine and willing to take the next step,  I can but only highly recommend the WSET diploma course.  It currently comprises six units, namely:

* The Global Business of Alcoholic Beverages.  This is examined by way of an essay style assignment and a closed-book exam in the form of a case study on the business aspects of wine;

* Wine Production.  This covers all aspects of viticulture and viniculture and is examined by way of a closed book exam, and is the first subject required to be completed;

* Light wines of the world.  This is the most challenging of the units, since it covers all table wines from all wine regions of the world.  It culminates in an all day examination, which starts with 12 wines in flights of 3 all to be reviewed blind and ends with a three hour closed-book theory exam on any aspect of the table wines of the world that the examiners see fit to examine.  This was the final exam I sat in January 2014, and it is somewhere between not easy and really quite hard;

* Spirits of the world.  This covers the spirits of the world.  The examination requires 3 spirits to be reviewed blind, followed by a theory exam;

* Sparkling Wines of the world.  This covers the sparkling wines of the world (Champagne, Cava, Sekt, Franciacorta and many more).  The examination requires 3 sparkling wines to be reviewed blind, followed by a theory exam; and

* Fortified Wines of the world.  This covers the fortified wines of the world (sherry, port, vins doux naturels and many more).  The examination requires 3 fortified wines to be reviewed blind, followed by a theory exam.

I look forward now to qualifying as a WSET certified instructor, and have even dared to think about glimpsing at that ultimate mountain in the distance that is the Masters of Wine (MW).  I suspect I will require a couple of years though to recover first, not to mention the approval of my incredibly understanding family, whom I expect felt that they too had completed the course!


  1. Craig – thank you kindly!

  2. A hearty congratulations Sean!

  3. Cheers, thanks mate ūüôā

  4. Congrats mate!

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