Many sommeliers will tell you that the more you learn about wine, the further you realize how little you know. There are countless grape varietals and scores of wine-producing locations, not to forget a wide diversity of styles and personalities behind the glasses. There are books available to assist oenophiles to study up on their wine expertise, but if you’re the type of student who requires structure, guidance, and deadlines, an online course will have you well enough on your way to sommelier certification. Sommelier lessons used to be held in person, with days of teaching and tasting.
However, the wine world has gone digital as a result of the digital age, and many of the top certifications may now be acquired from the comfort and privacy of your own house. There are conventional certification programs as well as training focusing on grape science or the Champagne industry. Our top options for the best online sommelier courses are listed below.
1. Sommelier Courses by Wine & Spirit Education Trust
This is for true wine connoisseurs who want to go above and beyond wine transportation. With courses available in 70 countries and 15 languages, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is one of the world’s leading wine learning institutions. From one-day starter training to master-level certificates in saké and spirit manufacturing, the duration, difficulty, and specifications of the courses vary. Level one is ideal for people who want to dip their toes into the world of wine—the material covers the basics, such as common grape kinds, pairings, and preserving and pouring wines. The upper tiers (Levels 2–4) delve deeper into specialized information.
Each level builds on the previous ones, with topics such as the fermentation process, existing and emerging regions, types, and wine service. Levels one and two are textual tests, while levels three and four also include tasting exams utilizing the WSET’s well-recognized codified wine rating grid. The programs necessitate focused study and time investment, but the levels provide a clear path for anyone interested in furthering their wine expertise in the long run. The cost varies according to the service and location you select.
2. Education & Certification by Society of Wine Educators
The Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) curriculum is a demanding 12-week program that encourages students to understand the worlds of viticulture, winemaking, and education. The program includes defects, the chemistry of taste, wine structure and chemistry, as well as wine etiquette and delivery, and is widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. Over 800 graphic wine map flashcards and drag-and-drop activities are included in the study aids. Nearly 900 digital flashcards, as well as many, practice exams and quizzes centered on the approved study guide and workbook, are available to buy. The curriculum culminates in a multiple-choice test administered by partner testing facilities. Applicants who score over 75% on their final exam earn a lapel pin and certificate, as well as the CSW post-nominal, which they are advised to use. Members of the Society of Wine Educators can get online seminars and quarterly webinars to help them with their studies for roughly $135 per year. The variety of lectures offered by the group is one of its most appealing features. The CSW is required for people seeking higher education to pursue the Certified Wine Educator credential.
3. Online Courses by American Wine Expert
Wine is produced in all 50 states of the United States, and this thorough certificate program focuses on American wine regions, from Sonoma and Napa to lesser-known winemaking locations. Students will study the various styles and kinds of wine produced in America’s diversified winemaking landscape, as well as the winemakers that represent each area. Much of the knowledge gained is unique to the course; the program collaborates with local winemaking groups to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date curriculum. The course encourages students to gain a basic understanding of the American wine business by addressing microclimates, geography, grape species, and types, history, industry landmarks, and the various wine regions in key winemaking states. The self-taught program ($499) includes a 12-month subscription to the online catalog, which contains all resources, including interactive maps and online quizzes, and is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each lesson finishes with practice and final exams, and successful students are awarded an AWE certificate.
4. ISG Sommelier Accreditation by International Sommelier Guild
This multi-tiered program is designed for wine enthusiasts of all levels of dedication. The International Sommelier Guild’s (ISG) Intermediate Wine Certificate (IWC) is the first step, followed by the Advanced Wine Certificate (AWC) and the ISG Master Sommelier accreditation (ISGM). Through thorough videos, writing, teaching requirements, and recommended wine tastings, all levels address the characteristics of each grape variety, how they’re farmed, and how they’re turned into wines. Each level builds on the knowledge acquired in the preceding programme. Students have access to two sommelier teachers through the IWC and AWC: one for taste inquiries and the other for learning queries.
Students can seek the full ISG Master Sommelier diploma after completing the intermediate-level study. This is a 90-week, 202-session online class that you may finish at your own speed. A lecture, taste, reviewing, and exam are all included in each session. This program covers a wide range of topics, including business administration, culinary arts, and health. Five sommelier teachers are available to help online students with each element of the course. ISGM grads must also do a dissertation, thus this isn’t a program for the casual student.
5. Become a Champagne Expert by Champagne MOOC
Champagne has a long history that includes nuns, rappers, and large and little festivities. The Comité Champagne—a trade organization of growers and producers in the Champagne region—has created a program that delves into this history and teaches vino enthusiasts and experts about the world’s best sparkling wine. The classic edition of the program (which is free to anyone) includes the task of forming sparkling wine, as well as the product’s legendary background and service notes. The premium edition (approximately $59) expands on the basic version by including additional videos, skill-testing sections, and a completion certificate.
Modules for tasting are included at all levels. The classes are available in English and French, with Italian, Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese, and Chinese translations. Self-paced learners can take a maximum of five hours to finish. The training is aimed at wine industry experts (such as sommeliers, oenologists, merchants, and buyers), as well as wine fans and visitors visiting the area. This deep dive into Méthode Champenoise provides a firm foundation for industry representatives that can be extended to various sparkling wine locations.
6. Winemaking Certification Program by University of California, Davis
The winemaking certification program at the University of California, Davis, is geared toward serious oenophiles and encompasses a wide range of the discipline, including viticulture, comprehending sensory experience, basic analytical chemistry, and evaluating wine quality. This program, which costs $8,810, is designed for sommeliers who are seeking a career in winemaking or who want to learn more about wine on a chemical and microbiological level. Students will gain practical knowledge and skills that will enhance their employment in vineyards, wineries, or service set over the course of 18 to 24 months.
Students have access to world-class lecturers as well as the school’s global network of 250,000 alumni. For a more limited program, UC Davis teamed up with Coursera to offer a free sensual wine path geared for beginners or those who want to acquire a feel for the program. The seminars are led by winemaker John Buechsenstein, who walks students through sensory language, tasting procedures, pairings, and defects, as well as how the sensations, interpret wines. A peer assessment closes the programme.
7. Online Courses by Wine Scholar Guild
The Wine Scholar Guild (WSG) offers programs specialized in vino from France, Italy, and Spain for learners who desire to concentrate their efforts on a certain country. Local appellations, local grape types, and what defines their identities are discussed in the programs. For an outstanding level of rigor, all lessons are helped by regional agriculture departments. The program can be further customized with regional-focused, master-level credentials for roughly $595. Candidates can concentrate on any of France’s major wine regions, such as Alsace, Bordeaux, or the Loire. The WSG welcomes wine professionals, amateurs, travelers, and everyone interested in learning more about the industry. Curriculums are self-paced and include reading materials and quizzes, as well as the option of taking exams via an online proctor. The guild offers intensive study tours to European winemaking regions for people who wish to learn in person. All students receive post-nominals upon completion of the programme.
8. Sommelier Certification by National Wine School
The National Wine School is situated in Los Angeles, California, but offers curriculum classes across the country. They blend online and classroom learning to provide you with hands-on experience. The cost per semester is roughly $700. While their sommelier training sequence is their major focus, they also offer a variety of other courses. The National Wine School is for people who want to immerse themselves in a classroom setting. The classes are held in various locations across the United States, and there are numerous options to pick from. This program is designed for people interested in specializing in certain regions or learning how to make wine. Programs on food and wine pairings, as well as beer, are also available.
9. Online Courses by Institute of Masters of Wine
The Master of Wine is the most prestigious and challenging qualification available, offered by the Institute of Masters of Wine. This is a highly regarded credential and the greatest level to which you can advance in any program. To be admitted to the program, you must have a previous high-level WSET or comparable qualification, three years of uninterrupted experience in the industry, and a recommendation from a Master of Wine or senior level wine expert in the field.
10. Fundamentals of Wine by International Sommelier Guild
This is a one-day training designed to provide large restaurants and bars with the tools they need to properly train their employees. This is a one-day session that a licensed teacher will provide for your staff. There is no need to take an exam. This is a series of in-person training and exams tailored to persons working in the hospitality business with drinks in restaurants and hotels. The programs are offered to be brief and to the point, usually requiring only one weekend to complete the course and tests.