Take your passion for wine one step further, or even further!

Go on, you know you want to do it!

Once the purview of wine professionals, restaurant staff and the geekiest of vinous geeks, in the last decade wine certifications have opened up to almost all levels of interest and knowledge, writes Joe Roberts. The big three in the U.S. are the Court of Master Sommeliers (focusing on wine knowledge and service), the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (or WSET, focused on the world of wine production and business), and the Society of Wine Educators (or SWE, concentrating on general wine knowledge and the ability to educate others in those topics). Most offer classes in major U.S. metro areas that are specifically geared to passing the certification exams.

(In South Africa, the Cape Wine Academy (CWA) offers various courses for those with a true passion for wine, starting with an introductory course and finishing with the Cape Wine Masters (CWM) qualification. For more information or any queries, contact the CWA in Johannesburg at 011-024-3616 or Cape Town at 021-889-8844, or at info@capewineacademy.co.za, or visit www.capewineacademy.co.za. The CWA even has an office in London.)

While many might consider the pursuit of a wine certification to be going overboard, those in love with wine “get it.” They know that few other topics encompass so much depth about so many topics, including geography, chemistry, agriculture, art, history, and law (not to mention the complex aesthetic and sensual pleasures it gives us).

So you don’t have to be looking for a job in the wine industry to consider obtaining a wine certification. In fact, preparing and testing for the Society of Wine Educators’ Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) accreditation (or a CWA qualification in South Africa) is one of the best ways to up your knowledge about all aspects of your favorite beverage. While it’s not inexpensive, it’s well worth the investment.

Here are a few tips that helped me pass (and, more importantly, get the most bang for the buck out of the process). These are in addition to the staples of taking straight SWE classes and reading their study guide (you didn’t think you were going to get out of that, did you?):

Indulge your passion

The CSW (or Cape Wine Academy) is one of the few areas where your borderline-obsession with wine can and should be fully indulged. The more you get jazzed up about the chemistry, history, and geography of wine, the more fascinating you will find the details of the CSW material. While the certification understandably places emphasis on the geography and regional laws of fine wine, it also provides an excellent overview of wine’s production methods, major grape varieties, chemistry, and even practical aspects of storing and serving wine. In other words, it’s a geek’s wine dream.

Don’t ignore the part that goes into your mouth

While the CSW exam does not include a tasting portion, studying about wine without tasting it is like trying to learn how to ski by reading about it while sitting in an easy chair. To get the most out of it, you need to connect the results of all of that knowledge with the end product. What better excuse would you have to seek out regions and styles of wines that are new to you than studying them? Nothing quite drives home esoteric topics like German quality and ripeness levels than tasting them for yourself and (literally) digesting the results of that knowledge.

Good luck, study hard, and enjoy the ride. And don’t forget to pop some corks after cracking open the books!

(Source: SNOOTH)