WSET Levels Explained: Which Course is Right for You?

wine glasses being held as wset levels explained

Understanding the WSET Landscape

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has established itself as the gold standard for wine, spirits, sake and beer education globally. Recognized in over 70 countries and presented in over 17 languages, the WSET offers a suite of qualifications that are designed to cater to any wine, beer, spirits or sake lover, from the novice through to the industry professional. Your first task is choosing the beverage you want to learn about: wine, spirits, beer or sake, and then you will choose the level. More on that below. 

An Overview of WSET Levels Explained

At the heart of the WSET’s educational framework are four primary levels that increase exponentially in breadth and depth. Each level serves a specific purpose, tailoring its curriculum to different learning needs. :

Level 1 Award:

This is the foundation course for anyone looking to embark on their wine, spirits, beer or sake education journey. It provides a basic understanding of the fundamentals for each alcohol type, covering key knowledge including types and styles, the WSET Level 1 Systematic Approach to Tasting, and food pairing recommendations. At this level, students are expected to be able to be able to identify, name, state and list foundational concepts in wine. 

Level 2 Award:

A step up from Level 1, this course delves deeper into the world of wines, spirits, sake or beer. As with Level 1, it covers foundational concepts, but it dives deeper, building on these foundations. Tastings become more comprehensive, moving to the WSET Level 2 Systematic Approach to Tasting and the theory covers greater breath, such as lesser known grape or hop varieties and how these can impact the liquid in the glass. In addition, students become far more comfortable with reading and understanding labels and understanding tasting notes. At this level, students are expected to be able to move beyond basic identification of facts and really start describing the important elements of wine, beer and spirits. 

Level 3 Award:

Targeted at individuals with a serious passion for wine, spirit or sake, or those looking to advance in the trade, this course explores the key factors influencing the style, quality, and price. Tastings become more focused, with students able to link various processes to what is in the glass. The WSET level 3 course culminates in a rigorous examination of wine tasting and theory assessment. A broad knowledge of facts is insufficient at this level; students are expected to be able to not only identify and describe elements about the beverage characteristics, but also explain why this is so. It’s a big step up from Level 2, famously challenging students to apply knowledge in one area, such as the natural factors of a wine region and how that affects style elements (for wine) or how the operation of a particular still can be manipulated to change the style of a spirit (for spirits).  Don’t worry – we teach you how to do this in our courses! 

Level 4 Diploma in Wines:

This is the pinnacle of the WSET qualifications, offered only for wine. Designed for industry professionals, it delves into intricate details about wine production, global business, regions and wines from all over the world, including sparkling, fortified and still wines.  The student also learns advanced tasting skills and techniques, and builds on their ability to assess the quality level of a wine and its future ageability. Students are expected to be able to analyze, evaluate, compare elements  and create at a high level. 


Choosing the Perfect Course for Your Needs

For the Casual Enthusiast:

If you’re beginning your journey, the Level 1 Awards are the ideal starting point. It gives you a gentle introduction, allowing you to confidently discuss and allowing you to more confidently discuss and taste with your peers.

For the Keen Learner:

If you’re in the industry, or you have already dabbled in beer, wine, sake or spirit appreciation and are eager to understand more about what’s in your glass, the Level 2 Award in Wines / Spirits / Sake / Beer is tailored for you. If you’re contemplating a career in the alcohol industry or are a dedicated enthusiast, this level will equip you with the important knowledge required for the alcoholic, hospitality or other related industries. 

For the Serious Connoisseur or Professional looking to advance their career:

Dive deep with the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines or Spirits. Most students usually complete Level 2 or an equivalent credential before tackling this beast. 

For the Established Professional:

Those already well-entrenched in the wine trade, or aiming for top-tier industry roles, should consider the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines. This level is demanding but offers unmatched expertise. Students who undertake this credential must have already completed and received the Level 3 certification. 


The Impact of WSET on Your Career

Boosting Career Prospects:

Whether you’re in the hospitality industry, production, or simply a an enthusiast, a WSET certification can significantly enhance your professional standing. For those in the beverage business, these certifications often translates to better job opportunities and higher pay scales.

Building a Global Network:

WSET qualifications are recognized globally. This means you become part of a worldwide community of beverage professionals and enthusiasts. The connections and friendships made can be invaluable, both personally and professionally.

Continuous Learning:

The beverage world is vast and ever-evolving. Engaging with the WSET ensures that you remain updated with the latest trends, research, and best practices in the wine, beer, sake and spirits industries.


Final Thoughts

Choosing the right WSET level is a decision that should align with both your current knowledge and future aspirations. Whether you’re just starting out or seeking to master the wine universe, there’s a WSET course tailored to your needs.

Embarking on a WSET course is not just about gaining a qualification. It’s about immersing yourself in a rich world of history, culture, science, and art. It’s a journey that promises to be as rewarding as it is enlightening.



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


You've got this!

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