What is the WSET and why should you choose the WSET courses when searching for wine knowledge? 

Read Time: 6 Minutes.

The WSET certification is the most globally recognised wine certification out there and the wine course that anyone aspiring to greater wine knowledge needs to know about. 

By Cameron Mowat

The world is full of wine courses to choose from to get educated and deepen your passion for wine. Our choice for our academies is the WSET or the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. We’ve been running these courses for almost a decade and having explored other courses it is far and away the top of the pile. 

There are several reasons for this. The first is that it is tried and tested, with over fifty years of refinement of their syllabus. The second is that it contains a ‘systematic approach’ to wine tasting that standardises the vocabulary and methods of analysing and describing wine. Finally it is the most globally recognised certification, which means our students can gain a diploma that is respected by sommeliers, bars and restaurants around the world, opening doors for those that want to start working with wine or bolster their careers.

In our Dublin Academy we run an intensive 2 day WSET Level 2 for those that want to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. In our Mallorca Academy we run both the WSET Level 2 and WSET Level 3, however we stretch them out over a period of 5 or 10 days respectively to make the course more experiential, with a Vineyard Visit and far more time for tasting and exploring the Island. 

An Institution With Deep Roots In Wine Culture 

The WSET was founded in the UK in 1969 under the name Wine and Spirits Associations Education Committee. It started as an educational tool for the UK wine and spirits industry, to help the industry better understand the products they were selling and raise the bar for the UK’s reputation in distribution, production and import. 

Top members of the main players of the UK drinks industry were recruited to be on the board of directors and fashion the syllabus into a sharp educational tool that would benefit the UK drinks community. However the potential of the syllabus quickly outgrew the UK market. By 1977 the demand for WSET training outside the UK led to an expansion into Ireland and Canada, and by the end of the 1990s it was a global phenomenon, available in most European countries, the USA and Asia. 

Now the WSET is offered in over 70 countries, in 15 different languages. There is no wine course that is more well taught and well respected, so it’s a great source of pride to be one of the few WSET providers in Ireland and the only provider in Mallorca.

It’s not just wine courses that the WSET offers also! There are three different levels for Spirits and they’ve recently added two levels in Sake (Japanese rice wine). 

Creating A Universal Language For Wine

Speaking the language of wine has always been a difficult task. Each wine region has its own ecosystem and its own vocabulary for discussing wine, which in the past has made communication across cultures a challenge. 

Part of what makes the WSET so unique is their ‘Systematic Approach to Tasting’ which has revolutionised the way that wine is discussed, analysed and evaluated around the world. Creating this universal language for wine has been instrumental in raising the standard of wine education around the world. By having a shared language it allows cross cultural communication that everyone understands. 

The best aspect of this is that it is a system that builds in complexity over every course. From Level 1 to to Level 4 the depth of vocabulary and technique is expanded upon ‘systematically’ (funnily enough), guiding the wine lover from basic knowledge to expertise. 

The SAT also helps develop the palate. The human tongue is an incredible tasting tool, but the main thing that holds it back from its tasting capabilities is the language needed to describe flavour. By learning, during the courses, to recognise which flavours and flavour descriptions, for example: ‘marmalade’, ‘unripe pear’ or ‘farmyard’, are present in a wine your palate is primed to recognise those flavours without needing tasting notes to recognise them. 

WSET 2 – The Perfect Starting Point For Wine Expertise

While WSET Level 1 is technically the ‘entry level’ WSET course, in reality the WSET 2 is where the real wine course begins. 

WSET Level 2 is where things get really interesting. The course focuses on the eight most popular grapes in the world, as well as over 20 different regional grape varieties that compose the most significant world wines, as well as over 70 different ‘geographical indications’ which are specific wine regions that have been awarded globally recognised status for wine production. 

The syllabus also contains in depth information about the grape growing process, wine making, maturation and how these factors influence the style and quality of wine. You’ll also touch on important knowledge like labelling, food pairings, service and storage. 

The WSET 2 is appropriate for both total beginners and those who are a little more seasoned with wine knowledge. By the end of the course you’ll have more knowledge about wine that most wine drinkers could get over years of organic experience, as well as a WSET Certification that looks great on the CV.

In our Dublin Academy we run the WSET 2 as a 2 day intensive course designed to streamline the qualification and get our students WSET certified in the shortest amount of time possible. In our Mallorca Academy we allow for a more relaxed approach to the WSET 2, encouraging our students to pad out their new wine knowledge with extra curricular activities like our Vineyard Visit, as well as sampling what the island has to offer in the food and drink scene. We also have a beautiful villa for our students to stay in that provides them with cheaper accommodation than anywhere else on the island, especially during the summer season.

WSET 3 – The Road To Sommelier 

The WSET Level 3 is the course designed to impart professional level wine knowledge. We refer to this course as the ‘road to sommelier’ as it is the WSET certification in Level 3 is recognised around the world as the entry requirement for wine careers. 

The syllabus takes wine knowledge to new depths of details. The focus of the WSET Level 3 is to provide a level of understanding of wine that empowers its students to explore the wine world confidently and with a high level of accuracy. Production methods, regional specifics, maturation, bottling and service are all discussed with a great level of detail and the key characteristics of the major players in the wine industry are demonstrated through analysis and tasting. 

The main focus however is the evaluation of wine using the Level 3 SAT. After learning the ins and outs of this level of the SAT, WSET students are able to describe, analyse and evaluate any style of wine that they come across. This includes ‘blind’ tasting, which is a serious skill that even sommeliers struggle with. 

The WSET 3 is the course for those with a foundation of wine knowledge they can build on, or those with a unique passion for the liquid that can fuel some serious learning. The Level 3 WSET certification is the ticket into the professional wine world and one of the most well respected wine certificates globally.

Our WSET Level 3 course is run exclusively in the Mallorca Academy. It takes place over 10 days, allowing for in depth discussion and education, so many tasting sessions and lots of time to explore the island and all of the local wines. Plus, students can stay in our villa for the duration of their stay. Mallorca is a Spanish D.O., meaning it is a wine region given premier status by the Spanish wine institutions. What better place to learn in-depth information about wine than a globally renowned wine region?

The WSET is the premier wine course institution and we’re proud to be one of their providers. You can check out the courses we run in more detail to get an idea of which course is for you and if you’re planning to join us in Mallorca, which packages suit you best.

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