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Wine Education and why Italy needs WSET

At one of the sessions at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Perugia, Italy, Gillian Arthur started the session by stating that there is a need in Italy for training front line wine staff. Italy is a major tourist destination and a hugh wine producing and exporting nation. There is a lack of trained wine professionals. Gillian went on by explaining that Italian wine professionals are very good in covering wine varieties in Italy and wine and food training. However education is needed in varieties of grapes worldwide and the commercial wine scene. The international wine arena is in English, Gillian thinks wine courses should be taught in English. Gillian believes that anyone who is a wine professional including journalists should take the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) courses.

Personal opinion, WSET is just one road to wine education. There are many roads to wine education. I commented that when I took the Intermediate WSET my instructor was very knowledgeable but was not a teacher. Gillian admitted that this is a problem and suggested that the best teachers for the WSET courses are in London. That leads me to wonder why Italy needs the WSET if the students would have to travel to London for the better teachers. Shouldn’t they have good teachers in Italy? That is not to say that there are not good teachers for the WSET courses worldwide, there are. But there are also very poor teachers. I believe that WSET needs to sort out content and teaching. It takes years to learn wine content. It takes years to learn, train and practice the art of teaching. In my opinion, WSET sides on the side of someone who knows the content.

What should Italians do? When it comes to any wine education class, examine the content and instructor prior to spending your money on the class. Students who take WSET classes, and any other wine education classes and courses, should rate their instructors on the Internet in blogs, forums and Rate My Professor at http://www.ratemyprofessors.com. WSET is only one possible solution to gaining wine knowledge. Buyer beware.


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