Candidates interested in sitting for the Certified Specialist of Wine exam (Society of Wine Educators) or WSET Levels 2 and 3 exams receive expert preparation as students of the Napa Valley Wine Academy.
Students’ individual study methods take many forms, and fortunately, a wealth of online resources exists that caters to these respective needs.
The following 5 resources supplement, but do not replace, NVWA materials. Some offer networking opportunities with other students, the chance to share best practices for studying, while others give students a sense of the depth of content required for exams that surpass requirements for the WSET Level 3, for example.
Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com)
Visual learners (and even non-visual learners) will adore Madeline Puckette’s blog, Wine Folly.
“Folly” does not mean “foolish” here. Far from it. “Whimsical” is more apt.
Using playful infographics and maps created by her design team, Puckette, a certified sommelier, succeeds in making wine more accessible without sacrificing accuracy and thoroughness.
Regional Marketing Organizations
One of the best ways to access up-to-date information on the rules and regulations governing world-class wine regions is to visit their online marketing portals.
These websites have been established primarily to facilitate sales in important wine markets such as the United States. They have unintentionally become excellent resources for students.
Great examples include the Loire Valley’s easily digestible appellation summaries; Wines of Germany’s interactive exercise on how to read a label; and Bordeaux Wines’ breakdown of its classifications.
Facebook Study Group for the Court of Master Sommeliers Exams
The Napa Valley Wine Academy does not offer any courses leading to certification in the Court of Master Sommeliers. This does not mean that a NVWA student cannot benefit from this lively Facebook open group.
Boasting 3,200+ members, the group posts frequent quizzes designed to help students test their knowledge before they sit for exams.
Members ask questions that actually receive answers. Questions range from how to distinguish a Sancerre from a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to the best resources on Spanish and Italian wines.
If you struggle with a particular concept, this might be the forum where clarity is found.
LinkedIn Wine & Spirit Education Trust Group
A CSW or WSET credential will almost certainly assist you in building your career in the wine industry.
An updated LinkedIn profile will also help, as will membership in the official WSET LinkedIn group.
With 7,500+ members, this group features posts by influencers in the wine industry, jobs listings, and the occasional sharing of notes by those also studying for wine exams.
Did we also mention networking opportunities?
Guild of Sommeliers (www.guildsomm.com)
The U.S. chapter of the Guild of Sommeliers was founded in 2003 by Master Sommeliers Fred Dame and Jay Fletcher.
While the educational modules exceed that which is required for CSW or WSET Levels 2 and 3 students, they are worth viewing for their sheer professionalism and as examples of what NVWA students wishing to pursue WSET Level 4 or CWE credentials will need to know.
The catch is that the content is available to members only. Fees start at $100/year for wine industry professionals.
A glorious exception is their podcasts, which are available for free here.
Photo courtesy of UNLV Continuing Education.