WSET Wine & Spirit Education Trust

WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines

The WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines is a specialist level qualification program and the highest level of certification offered by the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, the globally-recognized industry leader in wine education.

The objective of the Diploma program is to educate advanced students of wine in developing expert-level product knowledge of the world’s wines. Students will gain the critical-thinking and decision-making skills necessary to thrive in their current and future wine pursuits.

The Diploma fulfills the prerequisite for the wine qualification requirement for entry to the Master of Wine (MW) program.

Program of Study

Years of Study


In-Person Exams

Research Paper



D1 & D2 must be studied at the beginning of your Diploma program. The knowledge gained in these units will be used in the Product Knowledge Units.

D1 Wine Production

You will undertake a detailed theoretical study of viticulture, vinification, maturation, treatments, and packaging of wine. This unit is the first unit you will complete, as it builds a foundational level of theory knowledge needed for the study of D3, D4, D5, & D6. This unit is assessed by a multiple-part open-response exam.

D2 Wine Business

You will develop and hone your research skills to study the local & global drinks markets and the marketing of alcoholic beverages. Unit 1 (D2) is assessed via a multiple-part open-response exam.


D3, D4, D5, & D6 can be done in any order after sitting the exams for D1 & D2.

D3 Wines of the World

You will acquire specialist product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major light wine (all wines except sparkling and fortified) producing regions of the world. Unit 3 is assessed by a 5-question paper with short-form and long-answer essay questions and a practical tasting paper of 12 wines.

D4 Sparkling Wines

You will study the production methods and acquire in-depth product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major sparkling wines of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the New World. Unit 5 (D4) is assessed by a combined tasting and theory exam consisting of a tasting paper of three sparkling wines and one theory question.

D5 Fortified Wines

You will study the production methods and acquire in-depth product knowledge and commercial understanding for the major fortified wines of Spain, Portugal, France, and the New World. This unit is assessed by a combined tasting and theory exam consisting of a tasting paper of three fortified wines and one theory question.

D6 Independent Research

You will research a specified wine-related subject, demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of the topic using relevant source material to develop ideas and arguments to reach informed conclusions. The research assignment is a 3,000 word paper. There are two topics released each year from which you can choose to research, with respective submission dates in January and July.

Course Format

The WSET intends for the Diploma primarily to be a self-study educational program. Students will complete a large portion of their studies outside of the classroom. Courses for each unit give the student the opportunity to interact with industry experts and their peers to bolster their personal studies. Students have the choice to complete each individual unit as an in-person course, an online course, or a combination of both.


The in-person course days, held in Napa, are intensive sessions that are a combination of lecture, discussion, group activities, and tasting practice, led by Napa Valley Wine Academy’s expert instructors. Courses for each unit range in length from 2-8 days.


In the online course, students work on weekly activities, individually or in groups, to guide their theory study, as well as submit tasting notes for grading. Instructors for the online course are the WSET’s own instructors. Units range in length from 5-28 weeks, depending on the individual unit.

Want to know more?

See if you’re ready for Diploma & if the Napa Valley Wine Academy is the right school for you by checking out the Prospective Student and Schedules pages.

If you have more questions, take a look at the FAQ page or register for a Diploma Informational Webinar.

Ready to Register?

New students are required to take the D1 Wine Production Unit first. Choose your course format below to enroll now.