Is WSET Level 2 a Sommelier or a pathway to becoming a Sommelier?

man holding tasting notes in front of wine glasses

What is a Sommelier? Exploring the Foundations with Napa Valley Wine Academy


What is a Sommelier?

When it comes to wine expertise, the term ‘sommelier’ resonates with prestige and profound knowledge. The term “sommelier” carries distinct meanings depending on the context. To some, it signifies the job role within a restaurant, where a sommelier is a wine expert responsible for wine service, selection, and pairing with food. This professional is vital in fine dining establishments, bringing a depth of wine knowledge directly to the dining experience. 


Alternatively, others may refer to “sommelier” in the context of certification, specifically credentials awarded by the Court of Master Sommeliers. This organization certifies wine professionals who have demonstrated comprehensive knowledge and practical application of beverage service in the hospitality industry, signifying a level of expertise recognized globally. This distinction highlights the term’s versatility, encompassing both the practical role in hospitality and the formal acknowledgment of wine expertise. You could be a sommelier because you serve wine in a restaurant. You could be a sommelier because you have a Court of Master Sommeliers credential. You could be both! And do know, there are other sommelier certification programs available, such as the International Sommelier Guild. 


For many aspiring to this esteemed position, the journey begins with a solid foundation in wine education, such as that offered by the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines. Offered by the Napa Valley Wine Academy, this course is an essential step for those looking to deepen their understanding of wine, whether to pursue a career as a sommelier or to prepare for further certifications, including those from the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Understanding the Role of a Sommelier

A sommelier’s expertise goes beyond mere wine selection. This role encompasses wine procurement, cellar management, and providing expert advice on wine pairing to enhance the dining experience. As such, the job demands not only a broad and deep knowledge of wine regions, grape varieties, and vintages but also an understanding of wine making processes, tasting proficiency, and excellent communication skills. The role of a sommelier, with roots deep in history, has evolved from a wine steward to a highly respected professional in the culinary world. This evolution reflects centuries of tradition and expertise in wine selection, service, and pairing.


The Court of Master Sommeliers

The Court of Master Sommeliers, established to elevate beverage knowledge and service standards, held its first Master Sommelier examination in the UK in 1969, becoming the premier service examining body by 1977. Its members, despite their varied backgrounds, share a dedication to the mastery of wine’s art, science, and history. This commitment underscores the sommelier’s work’s complexity and the depth of knowledge required, which the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines begins to address. 

How WSET Level 2 Prepares Aspiring Sommeliers

Whether you’re interested in working as a sommelier in the hospitality industry or you want to undertake a sommelier credential, the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines lays the groundwork for this comprehensive skill set. Covering key wine regions, grape varieties, and the factors influencing wine style and quality, the course provides an essential overview that is critical for any sommelier. Additionally, it introduces a tasting assessment. Tasting of course is fundamental to the sommelier’s role. With its focus on both theory and tasting assessment, WSET Level 2 serves as an invaluable stepping stone towards becoming a sommelier.


Moreover, the course helps students prepare for the theoretical and tasting techniques which can be useful in tackling the Court of Master Sommelier credentials. By establishing a strong foundation in wine knowledge, students are better equipped to tackle the more advanced and specialized training required by the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Why Choose Napa Valley Wine Academy

Many students choose to undertake their WSET Level 2 Award in Wines at the Napa Valley Wine Academy due to its exceptional reputation, high pass rates, and the quality of instruction. The Academy’s focus on making learning both engaging and enjoyable ensures that students not only gain the necessary knowledge but do so in a way that fosters a lasting passion for wine. This approach is particularly effective in preparing students for the multifaceted role of a sommelier and the challenges of further sommelier certifications.

In conclusion, while the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines is not a sommelier certification in itself, it is an indispensable step for anyone aspiring to the role of a sommelier or looking to pursue the Court of Master Sommelier credentials. The comprehensive education provided by the Napa Valley Wine Academy through its WSET Level 2 course equips students with the foundational knowledge and tasting skills necessary for success in the wine industry and beyond.



Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

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Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


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Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


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Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


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Aloft Nashville

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


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Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


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Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559