WSET Level 2 vs Level 1: 

What's the Difference and Which is Right for You?

To make a career in the wine industry, you need two things- knowledge and experience. While you can gain experience from working in the industry in different profiles, when it comes to knowledge, nothing will boost your career like WSET courses.

The courses by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust are designed not only for those who are starting out in their careers but for established professionals and long-time enthusiasts of wines, spirits and sake. Hospitality, winemaking, retail, import or distributorship- no matter which sector you want to pursue a career in, there is always a WSET Award that can add credit to your resume and give you all the education that you need to flourish.

 But where do you start and at what level do you stop? While each WSET Level will only further your knowledge about wines, it is important to know which Award works the best for your career, and which ones would be of little help in shaping it.

What will you learn in WSET Level 1:

Specially curated for beginners, this Award gives an introduction to the world of wines. To clear this course, you will have to study the main types and styles of wine and the basics of describing it accurately and appropriate food and wine pairings.

Here’s the course outline:

Prominent types and styles of wine

Common varieties of wine grapes and their important characteristics

The right way to store and serve wine

The chief principles of food and wine pairing

Using the WSET Level 1 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine (SAT) to describe wines

To complete this award, you’ll need to put in six hours of study time with a WSET course provider, but you can opt for online sessions or classroom teaching, depending on your convenience. Another advantage of WSET Level 1 is that it is available in multiple languages, such as English, Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, etc.

Level 1 exam consists of 30 Multiple Choice Questions that you have to answer in 45 minutes. There’s no tasting exam for this level.

What you’ll learn in WSET Level 2

Taking what you learned in WSET Level 1 a step further, this Award will introduce you to the principal and regionally important global varieties of grape varieties, where they are grown and the styles of wines they produce.

This is the basic outline of WSET Level 2 Course:

How to taste and describe wine using the WSET Level 2 SAT

The influence of environmental factors, grape-growing, winemaking and maturation options on the style and quality of wines made from the following grape varieties- Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah or Shiraz.

Style and quality of wines made from 22 regionally important grape varieties which are grown in over 70 geographical indications (GIs) around the world

How different grape varieties and winemaking processes influence key styles of sparkling and fortified wines

Key labelling terms used to indicate the origin, style and quality of a wine

Principles and processes involved in the storage and service of a wine

Principles of food and wine pairing

While this course too is available in multiple languages, you’ll have to put in a total of 28 hours into your studies, including 16 hours of classroom or online sessions with a WSET course provider, 11 hours of personal studies and taking a one-hour-long examination.

For Level 2 exam you have to solve 50 MCQs in 60 minutes. Like Level 1 tasting is not a part of this exam, however at the Sonal Holland Academy, we start preparing students for tasting from Level 1 so that it doesn’t seem intimidating later.

WSET Level 1 Vs WSET Level 2- Which Course Is Right For You?

The WSET Level 1 Award is for beginners who want to learn about wines out of personal interest or improve their wine service by being able to answer basic queries from consumers. While this award might not open new doors for you, it will give you a general understanding of wine and help you perform better in your current role and sets a very solid foundation for your wine journey ahead.

But if you think you know your basics and wouldn’t gain much from a Level 1 course, then you can directly go for the WSET Level 2 Award. This certification will give you leverage in interviews for jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors.

If you are still struggling to decide which course is better for you, perhaps having a one-on-one conversation with a member of the Sonal Holland Wine Academy will help you. 

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