Wine Courses FAQ
Fine Vintage And The Wset
Overview of Fine Vintage and the WSET
Who is Fine Vintage?
Fine Vintage is a leading provider of wine education in North America. We offer the WSET courses, which are professional qualifications in wine with international recognition, and our own specialty courses. James Cluer MW is the owner and operator of Fine Vintage. He is just one of only 370 persons in the world to have obtained the prestigious Master of Wine title. We have a team of over 15 highly-qualified instructors who will offer you the knowledge they have garnered in the wine industry.
What is the WSET?
WSET is short for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, established in London in 1969. The WSET is an independent accredited educational institute based in London that has offered the WSET courses for 40 years. The courses are recognized by The Institute of Masters of Wine who oversee the syllabus. The WSET courses are well known throughout the world and are considered the gold standard in wine education. WSET is taught in 70 countries in 18 languages, bringing international recognition to each qualification level. WSET focuses its attention on the global wine industry, not just on one particular country or region. WSET is widely respected by employers involved in the business of wine in such fields as management, retail, import/export, sales/distribution, or buyer.
Will the WSET Certificates help me in my career in the wine industry?
Yes, most employers look for WSET certification. Many graduates work in wine importing, retailing, or for wineries. Some are Food and Beverage (F&B) directors, others are Sommeliers, and others are wine buyers. Whatever wine career you are hoping to pursue, the WSET certification can help you get there.
ISG vs the WSET Qualification
What is the difference between the ISG courses and the WSET courses?
The International Sommelier Guild (ISG) courses were created by a private individual in Ontario who developed a series of courses and exams, and then certified students as “sommeliers”. The ISG courses are primarily offered just in North America and are not well known internationally. The ISG is not recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Before the Course
What courses does Fine Vintage offer that help me learn more about wine?
Fine Vintage is North America’s largest Approved Program Provider of the London-based WSET certifications, offering the Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4 Diploma Awards in Wine qualifications. Fine Vintage is also the 2011 winner of the Riedel Trophy for Educator of the Year and has been nominated for this Trophy 4 times.
Additionally, we offer non-WSET courses which include the Canadian Wine Scholar, American Wine Professional, Sensory Masterclass, French Wine Professional, and the Business of Wine. Courses to suit everyone!
Who takes the WSET and Fine Vintage courses?
We have a wide range of people taking our courses – young and old, men and women, industry types and general wine enthusiasts. At each table there is inevitably an interesting mix of people. Some are professionals seeking to enhance their career; others are looking to start a career in the wine industry; some are connoisseurs; and others come for the great wines and the good times.
Some WSET course providers offer shorter and longer length courses. What is the reasoning behind the timeframes offered by Fine Vintage?
Our courses follow the precise format offered by the WSET in the UK except we run for 30 minutes longer each night so that you get additional instructional hours. We do not agree with course providers offering the WSET curriculum in shorter timeframes as we believe it is impossible to properly cover the materials in shorter timeframes than we offer. At Fine Vintage, we prioritize the student.
Are these courses only for people in the industry?
We welcome general-interest wine enthusiasts also. At the Levels 2 and 3, at least 50% of students are attending out of general interest.
How often is each course Level offered?
It depends on the location, but we typically offer each course several times per year in most locations. Our Level 3 courses are held less frequently.
Do you offer the 8-week, and 15-week formats in all locations?
We only offer the 8-week, and 15-week formats in select locations. Please check each location page for details.
What is the difference between the full day or evening courses?
The full day courses are great courses and we cover all the material and more. In the evening courses, we have more time to go into further details, taste more wines, and have more time for questions. The Study Guide, exam, and certification are the same. If you travel extensively or have many other commitments we recommend the full day courses not the multi-week evening courses. The full day courses are the most popular which is why we offer them in every location.
Do I need to take the Level 1 before Level 2?
No. Level 1 is not a pre-requisite for taking Level 2. However, if you do not have a solid basic understanding of tasting and wine, we strongly recommend taking Level 1 as Level 2 is substantially more difficult. Most of our students take Level 1 so there are no gaps in their knowledge, and for this reason they typically achieve higher results at Level 2.
Do I need to take Level 2 before Level 3?
Level 2 is not a pre-requisite for Level 3, but the level of study is significantly more challenging between Levels 2 & 3 than between Levels 1 & 2. For this reason, it is generally not recommended to go straight into Level 3. It has been our experience that students who go directly into Level 3 fail the exam. To go straight into Level 3, you should have at least 5 years’ experience in the wine trade, have visited several wine regions, and have extensive formal tasting experience.
Do I need to take the Level 3 before the Level 4 Diploma?
Yes, this is a WSET UK requirement. All applicants must have successfully completed and passed the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines. There are no exceptions made by the WSET UK.
How old do I have to be to take a course?
You need to be of legal drinking age in the location you are taking your course.
When will I be charged for the course?
You are charged a deposit of $100 immediately upon registration and you are emailed an automated course receipt. The remaining balance is then automatically processed by our ecommerce system at 3 weeks prior to the start date using the credit card provided at the time of registration. Should you register within less than 3 weeks of the start of your course, you will be charged the full amount. Please note that we only accept Visa and Mastercard and all registrations must be done online.
What does the cost of the course include?
The cost includes the tuition, all wines, exam fees and a study pack. It does not include the wine glasses (except for all WSET Level 1 and Level 4 courses where each person is given the wine glasses free of charge).
Do I have to buy Fine Vintage’s wine glasses?
I forgot to purchase a starter kit (tasting glasses and Fine Vintage canvas bag), now what? Can I pay for the starter kit at the course?
Please check your automated course receipt to ensure you did not purchase a starter kit when you registered. If you forgot to purchase one, please contact us right away and we will be happy to arrange for the instructor to provide you with a kit at the course. However, we will need your approval to charge the credit card on file for the cost of the kit prior to the course beginning. Remember that the wine glasses are our gift to you free of charge for all WSET Level 1 and Level 4 registrants.
I am having problems registering. What should I do?
Please ensure you are using a Visa or Mastercard as these are the only two credit cards we accept. Also, please close and re-open your browser and try registering again as your computer may be storing history. If you are still having a problem, please contact us and we will get you registered right away.
How will I know if a class I wish to register for is full?
When you identify the course you wish to take, if it is full the course and location will state: “This class is full – please contact us to be added to the waiting list.”
Are payment plans available?
No, payment plans are not available. Fine Vintage charges $100 upon registration and the remaining balance at 3 weeks prior to the start date of the course. If the course is less than 3 weeks away, the full balance is due.
I am being sponsored – how can my employer or supporting agency register me and pay?
Please ask your employer to register you online. The receipt will be emailed to the email address provided during the registration process. All course information is sent to the registrant via email.
I would like to cancel or change my registration. Can I get back all or part of my money?
There are no refunds for missing courses due to inclement weather or personal circumstances. We do not cover travel expenses in the event that we need to cancel a course due to low registration. This decision is made more than 2 weeks prior to the course start date. If at this time, Fine Vintage cancels a course, a refund will be issued in full.
Can I transfer from one course to another?
When will I receive my Study Guide?
For the 8-week and 15-week courses, study guides are handed out on the first night of the evening courses, along with any starter kits purchased. For full-day courses, study guides for the full-day classes are sent via Express Post as soon as we receive your online registration. All WSET Level 1 Award in Wines study guides are sent electronically upon registration (Level 2 & 3 guides are not available in an electronic form). A printed copy of the Level 1 study guide is given to you at the course. Diploma Level 4 study materials are all online via the student portal and access is granted a few weeks prior to the course start date.
Do I need a visa to attend the course if I am coming from another country?
You might need a visa to gain access into the country of the course location, but not to attend the courses.
Do you offer gift certificates?
Yes, we offer electronic Gift Certificates for our courses. Simply select the “Gift this course” button beside any course session and we will email you the Gift Certificate to print. After you complete the registration you will be emailed a sales receipt and a welcome letter to forward to the recipient (after you give them the gift certificate) which will give them important information they will need for the course. Once the recipient is given the gift certificate, we will need them to email us with their details as outlined on the gift certificate.
Please note that if a transfer to a different course date is desired, we must be notified at least 3 weeks prior to the original course start date indicated on the Gift Certificate. Unfortunately, as we need to register the recipient for the exam 3 weeks prior to the course start date, no changes can be made after that time.
Getting To The Course
Where can I park for my course?
Please visit the location page for details on parking. It is listed underneath the address of the venue.
If I book my travel and hotel and you cancel the course, will I be refunded for my travel expenses?
No, please contact us 4-6 weeks before each course begins to ensure the course will proceed before you book any travel. We do not offer refunds on travel.
What hotels do you recommend?
We do not recommend hotels as everyone has their own preferences.
At The Course
What is the dress code?
We want you to feel as comfortable as possible. Some people wear jeans and a t-shirt and others come directly from work in a suit. There is a wide range of dress.
Out of respect for your classmates, however, we do encourage refraining from excessive body and hair odours from such things as scented shampoos, colognes, and perfumes. This can be distracting for fellow students and impede everyone’s ability to assess wine properly.
What to Bring?
What do I need to bring to class each week?
You just need to bring a pen, notebook, study pack, and your tasting glasses (unless you are picking up a Starter Kit on the first day of the course).
What language(s) are your courses offered in?
All Fine Vintage courses are taught and examined in English. However, some WSET exams may be administered in a different language if requested. Please email us should you wish to have your WSET exam administered in a language other than English.
How many people are in a class?
Typically, there are a maximum 24 students in a class. This allows for plenty of interaction and there is a lot of open discussion.
Who will instruct my course?
The instructor for your course will be listed on the website. However, we reserve the right to substitute instructors if required.
Tasting of Wines
How many wines will I taste?
At each evening course you will generally taste at least 7 wines per night. In the full day courses, you will taste between 12 and 16 wines throughout the day. At Fine Vintage we are well known for the benchmark quality wines we pour.
Can I participate in the course without tasting the wine?
Yes, you may participate in most of our courses and write the exam without tasting. The exception to this is the WSET Level 3 and 4 Awards in Wine as a tasting element is part of the exam so it is therefore necessary to taste the wines.
What if I am going to be away for a class?
Attendance is taken at each class so there is no need to call or email us in advance if you are going to be away. Likewise, should your schedule require you to leave a class early, you are welcome to do so as long as it does not interrupt the presentations. If you miss any portion of a class, it will be up to you to ensure that you have read the textbook and are prepared for the exam. All exam questions come from the textbook.
Please note that instructors are unable to provide copies of their presentation materials but will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the course content.
Can I bring a friend to the course or can someone take my spot if I have an emergency and am unable to attend?
Unfortunately, we do not allow any visitors to join in a class or substitutions if you cannot attend a class.
I have food allergies. What do I need to do?
Food pairings at the Level 1 are intended to support the lesson, but you are not required to eat the food items. Please avoid food items you cannot eat.
I am gluten intolerant. What do I need to do?
We suggest you bring gluten free crackers for your own consumption.
Is lunch included?
No. Some of our locations are near local restaurants, but others are not. Please search online for options available in the area prior to the course. You are welcome to bring your own lunch to class.
At The Examinations
I need special accommodations. What do I need to do?
If you require special accommodations for your exam session and have a documented report of your disability, it is crucial that you contact us within the specified timeframe. We require a minimum of 25 business days for Levels 1-3 and a minimum of 45 business days for Level 4.
When are exams held?
Exams take place on the last day of a course.
What if I cannot make it to the exam?
For the WSET courses, each student is registered for the exam 3+ weeks prior to the course start date and exams will be ordered. If you are unable to sit the exam on the final day of class, please notify our admin team via email prior to this time and we will provide you with an alternative exam date. Please note that an administration fee will apply because each WSET exam is name, date, and location specific, so a new exam must be ordered.
Format of Examinations
What are the WSET exams based on?
All WSET Level exams are based on the content of the study guides. The in-class presentations and tastings are also based on the study guides. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you read your study guide at least 3 times prior to the exam.
For the WSET courses, Fine Vintage also provides you with review questions. These questions are meant to supplement your studies and are not extracted from actual WSET exams.
What is involved in the WSET exams?
The exam for each WSET Level varies slightly. All three Levels involve a multiple-choice component, but Level 3 also has a short-answer and a tasting component. The exams for the Level 4 Diploma are altogether different. Please visit our Wine Course Overview webpage to see the specific exam format for each Level.
What are Fine Vintage Course exams based on?
All exams, in-class presentations, and tastings are based on the content of the study guides. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you read your study guides at least 3 times prior to the exam.
What is involved in the Fine Vintage Course exams?
The exam for each course involves a multiple-choice component. Please visit our Wine Course Overview webpage to see the specific exam format for each Fine Vintage course.
What identification should I bring with me to the exam?
All students must bring one piece of photo ID with them to the exam. Failure to do so will result in being unable to write the exam. This is a policy established by the WSET to verify it is actually you who is sitting the exam.
What To Bring?
What do I need to bring to the exam?
You are required to bring one government-issued photo ID on the day of the exam. Fine Vintage will supply sharpened pencils, erasers, and extra paper.
After The Exam
When will I receive my exam results?
The WSET in the UK will issue an exam grade transcript and, in the case of a passing grade, a certificate for the specific WSET Level completed. Depending on your location and the time of year, the student will receive these via post 8 – 16 weeks after the exam date.
For Fine Vintage exam results, an exam grade transcript and, in the case of a passing grade, a Fine Vintage certificate will be mailed to you 6 – 8 weeks after the exam date.
NOTE: If you have changed (or intend to change) your mailing address or name since the time of your course registration, please notify us immediately so that we can update our records.
In addition to my Certificate, will I receive any other “designation?”
Once you have successfully obtained the WSET Levels 2, 3, or 4, you will be able to use the designation of “WSET Certified” on your business cards, stationary, and personal documentation. The designation is recognized throughout the world and is very highly regarded. Please click here to download the form for Level 2 Award in Wines, Level 3 Award in Wines, and Level 4 Diploma in Wines. Complete the form, sign it, scan the document and email it to us. Upon receipt we will send you the WSET logo as a JPEG file.
The relevant Fine Vintage credential will be conferred on those who achieve a passing grade.
What should I do if I need a Replacement Certificate/Final Grade transcript because mine is lost, damaged, or the details are incorrect?
If a WSET certificate has been lost or damaged in transit or by the candidate, details have been spelt incorrectly, or the candidate has changed their name, a Replacement Certificate Request Form should be completed and sent to the WSET in the UK with the appropriate fee as detailed on the form. All details should appear on the form as they were at the time of registration. If you are in possession of the original certificate, this must be returned to the WSET in the UK before a duplicate can be issued. Please allow up to 4 weeks for processing such applications.
For Fine Vintage replacements, please email us.
If I fail the exam or miss it entirely, can I re-sit the exam?
Students who fail or miss a WSET exam may re-sit the exam until a successful grade is achieved. There will be a re-sit fee for each exam ordered. This fee includes the cost of the exam and an administration fee. Students who have previously passed a qualification or component unit cannot re-sit these exams to improve their grade. Only students who fail or miss a qualification or component unit can re-sit an exam.
It is possible to do an exam re-sit on the next available exam day for your appropriate course Level at any of our course locations. Except for the Level 4 Diploma, exams are always held on the last day of a course session. Please note that if you would like to re-sit an exam, the request and fee must be received by our office a minimum of 4 weeks prior to the exam date requested. Please do not email us more than 4 weeks prior to an exam date as the dates are only tentative up until this point in time.
To re-sit a Fine Vintage exam, please email us.