Be A Master of Wine
All of our programs are offered through the National Wine School. If you are interested in wine education and how the levels of sommelier certification work, here is your guide!
The easy first step into wine education. Learn the basics in this fun and easy-to-understand Wine 101 program!
This level introduces the student to the essentials of wine, from grape to bottle to the table. Level one is divided into seven classes. The topics discussed include Major Varietals, Reading Wine Labels, Tasting like a Sommelier, Understanding Wine Styles, Common Wine Myths, and Introduction to Food and Wine Pairings.
This program is offered as an online program and is not required for higher certifications. Each class includes a video presentation and quiz. To complete this section, the student must complete the Level One exam. 8 Units of Instruction, Total Clock Hours: 20.5
The complete program for sommelier education and certification. This includes the Level 2 and Level 3 programs, plus your sommelier pin!
Level Two: Wine Foundations
This program is the premier sensory training program available in the United States. This program is designed to train students in the art of blind-tasting wine. This rigorous course includes seven in-person lectures, comprehensive reading material, graded wine selections, and in-depth lesson quizzes. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive exam, including blind tasting and theory sections. 8 Units of Instruction, Total Clock Hours: 40, Lab Clock Hours: 40
Level Three: Wine Regions of the World
This program focuses on the terroir, grapes, and wine cultures of the essential wine regions around the world. This program features classes on the wines of France, Italy, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Austria, Argentina, and Chile. This course includes seven in-person lectures, comprehensive reading materials, graded wine selections, and in-depth lesson quizzes. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive exam. 8 Units of Instruction, Total Clock Hours: 40, Lab Clock Hours: 20
Wine Specialist Programs
Earn the bona fides to follow your dreams of winemaking. The prerequisite for this program is your Sommelier Pin.
Wine Educator Certification
Become a certified wine educator and run your wine school. The prerequisite for this program is your Sommelier Pin.
Advanced Sommelier Certification
For those who seek an outstanding and authoritative wine education. Earn your Advanced Sommelier pin in six epic semesters: two semesters for the required Sommelier Certification and Four for the Advanced Sommelier program. 32 Units of Instruction, Total Clock Hours: 160
At the Wine School of Philadelphia, you can take any four programs listed on our Advanced Sommelier Pin page, including the specialist programs listed above.
This is not true for universities or colleges that also run this program. Most affiliates of the National Wine School require four specific courses, which are listed below. We feel this is too restrictive for our high-achieving students.
American Wine Specialist™
This program covers all the major wine regions in California, including Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, Sierra Foothills, Inland Valleys, Upper Central Coast, Monterey, and Santa Barbara. The program also includes all the major wine regions in the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, Canada, and Mexico. This course consists of 8 lectures with wine tastings. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive project.
Italian Wine Specialist™
This program covers all the major wine regions in Italy, including Valle D’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Fruil-Venezi Guila, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardegna. This course includes eight lectures with wine tastings. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive project.
Spanish Wine Specialist™
This program covers all the major wine regions in Spain, including Andalucia, Murcia, Valencia, La Mancha, Madrid, Castilla Y Leon, Galicia, Pais Vasco, La Rioja, Navarra, Catalunya, and Aragon. This course includes eight lectures with wine tastings. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive project.
French Wine Specialist™
This program covers all the major wine regions in France, including South-West France, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Champagne, Alsace, Jura, Savoie, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Northern Rhone, Southern Rhone, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Corsica. This course includes eight lectures with wine tastings. To complete this section, the student must complete a comprehensive project.
Master in Advanced Wine Studies
Our definitive program is the Master in Advanced Wine Studies. The prerequisite for this program is the Advanced Sommelier Pin—32 Units of Instruction, Total Clock Hours: 160.
This program requires an additional four semesters of classes. Therefore, you must complete a total of ten semesters, including the courses you took to earn your Sommelier Certification, Advanced Sommelier Certification, and any Specialist programs you have taken.
Required Wine Courses
- Level Two: Wine Foundations
- Level Three: Wine Regions of the World
- American Wine Specialist™
- Italian Wine Specialist™
- Spanish Wine Specialist™
- French Wine Specialist™
- Food & Wine Scholar™
- Essential Master in Wine™
Elective Courses (Pick Two)
- Winemaker Certification
- Wine Educator Certification
- Specialist in Spirits™
- Science of Beer Brewing™
- German Wine Specialist™.
- East Coast Wine Scholar™
Understanding Master Wine Certifications
There are three Master of Wine programs offered in the United States. While we will cover all three programs, we are far from impartial. The founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia is on the board of directors for the National Wine School and is featured in several of its online programs. If you are looking for an unbiased review of all three programs, we recommend checking out SOMM or a similar review website.
Master Sommelier vs Master of Wine vs Master in Advanced Wine Studies
The agencies behind these programs are the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), and the National Wine School (NWS). The first two are British imports, and the third is based in Vermont and California. The top professional wine credentials are offered anywhere, but some differences exist.
Master of Wine Certification and Master Sommelier Pins
While most people think that “Master of Wine” and “Master Sommelier” are high-level certifications, that is not technically true. Since these are trademarked terms registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, we can review their actual legal definitions. Here they are:
The master sommelier trademark is filed in the category of Education and Entertainment Services . The description provided to the USPTO for master sommelier is educational services, namely, conducting lecture and demonstration courses in the fields of wine and evaluation, selection, and service of wine, distilled spirits, liquers, and cigars by wine stewards.United States Patent and Trademark Office
The Master of Wine trademark is filed in the category of Goods and Services. The description provided to the USPTO for Master of Wine is a nonprofit corporation devoted to the promotion of education and knowledge concerning wines and the wine trade and to promoting the interests and high standards of the wine trade.United States Patent and Trademark Office
It is true both the CMS and IMW zealously guard the reputation of their “Master” wine programs. They provide a stratum of elitism within the ranks of restaurant employees. However, they do not offer degrees, which is why they use terms like “Master of Wine Qualification” or “Master Sommelier Diploma” and not the words “Degree” or “Certification.”
That is not to say a Master of Wine title isn’t hard to get or incredibly impressive. It is. But it doesn’t do the world of wine education any favors if we pretend qualifications or diplomas are the same as degrees and certifications.