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What is WSET?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023


wset-wine-and-spirits-education-trust

At Grape Skills, we specialise in the internationally recognised WSET qualifications. Around the world, these courses form the basis for the know-how of thousands of wine professionals. But what is actually behind the four letters? You can read about it in this blog post.


WSET stands for Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is the world's leading provider of qualifications in wine, spirits and sake. The Trust was founded in 1969 by four venerable institutions in London:


- The Vintner's Company (an association of British wine merchants with roots in the 14th century).

- The Wine and Spirits Association of Great Britain

- The Institute of Masters of Wine (probably the most demanding training within the wine industry takes place here)

- The Worshipful Company of Distillers


The four founders aimed to create a charitable foundation to provide in-depth training for those working in the wine and spirits industry. WSET started in 1969 with three courses, being the Diploma in Wines and Spirits already at the top of the pyramid.


As early as 1977, the first courses were offered outside the UK. Today, WSET courses have been offered in over 70 countries and 15 languages, including German, since 1993. In the last academic year (2020/21), the number of students broke the 100,000 mark for the first time!


Nine qualifications are currently available - in addition to four consecutive courses on the wines of the world (Level 1 - Level 2 - Level 3 - Diploma), students can also specialise in spirits and sake. The quality of the training is a significant concern of WSET: the courses are reviewed every three years to ensure that they are up to date.


The central organisation takes place at the headquarters in London: The courses are developed here, and all exams also come from here and are corrected here. But the teaching itself is in the hands of the so-called Approved Programme Providers, or APP for short. These are independent wine schools that specialise in the WSET courses - there are more than 800 of them worldwide! To be recognised as an APP, you have to go through a rigorous process - after all, there are high standards to meet if you want to become part of the global WSET network. Grape Skills is one of the few German APPs specialising in WSET courses!


To ensure the quality of the teaching, every APP must have at least one WSET Certified Educator as a lecturer. This additional qualification is not only about wine knowledge but also about didactic skills - this ensures high teaching standards. At Grape Skills, we currently have three Certified Educators on board!


If you would like to read more about the WSET and the various qualifications, take a look at wsetglobal.com.

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