WSET vs ISG: Why I Chose WSET

wine & spirit education trust level 2 intermediateWhen I decided to take my interest in wine more seriously, I didn’t think a blog would come out of it. I’ve taken interest courses before. In fact, I took an intro wine course offered by Mohawk College when I lived in Hamilton, Ontario a few years ago, when my interest in the wine world was just starting. I’ve lived in Vancouver the past 5 years and have taken a travel writing course as well as French. More recently, I decided to take wine courses offered by Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) through Fine Wine Vintage Ltd.

While researching for intro wine courses, I found there were two reputable organizations offering wine education in Vancouver (well three, but the courses at UBC were continuing studies rather than for professional certification): the aforementioned WSET and International Sommeliers Guild (ISG). Imagine how confused you sometimes feel when you’re at the wine store or in the wine section of a store… it was that confusing. After all, this was a lot of money for an interest course and I jumped from one to the other for a couple days.

My first impression was to go with ISG because it seemed more in depth which to me substantiated why it was more expensive. Then after much research, I decided that WSET was right for me because the intro course was broader and it was less expensive. I just needed an intro and if I decide I don’t want to go any further in wine studies, then at least I spent less money in the beginning doing so.

WSET also discusses the business side of the wine industry whereas ISG was designed more for those in the service industry, which I didn’t plan to return to.

One last selling point for me is that WSET is recognized internationally. When you say you have obtained WSET level 2, people in the industry worldwide know what you’re talking about. ISG, on the other hand, is based in Canada and is not very well known outside Canada and the US.

wine studies

If you’ve thought about taking a wine course for pleasure, I say, do it. It may feel overwhelming depending on how much you know (I knew little but more than I reallized!), but when you’re learning about something you enjoy, it’s quite gratifying. And who knows? You may decide to pursue it further like I did and take the second level.

I’m contemplating the third level offered this September and I’m nervous and at the same time excited at the thought of it. Third level exam includes two blind tasting tests. Have I refined my senses enough to do this? Well, as they say, practice makes perfect.

taking wine notes

Wine tasting it is! And note taking is imperative.

How often do you take notes when you open a bottle at home? I so need to do this more frequently. God knows I enjoy a glass or two often enough.

I hope you’ll join me here for some wine talk every Wednesday!

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