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Advanced Certificate Wine Course in NYC - WSET or American Sommelier?

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I recently completed the Foundation Course from American Sommelier and am ready to start advanced coursework. However, I am torn between the 24 week viti/vini course from ASA or the advanced certification from WSET. While I enjoyed ASA, I've heard several recommendations from people to take WSET. Does anyone have experience with both? Any thoughts to share? My ultimate career goal is to be a wine consultant and hopefully own a wine store.

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  1. For those goals, WSET for sure.

    1. The courses are good but nothing, repeat nothing, substitutes for tasting, tasting and more tasting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jock

        I also agree with tasting and more tasting, but tasting combined with the instruction and instrutors at WSET is hard to beat. I took the advanced course a few years ago and I only wish I had the time to move on to the Diploma Studies.

      2. Can you help out by letting us know what type of consulting you want to do, i.e. for private clients of your wine store, for trade, for wineries? Are you more interested in the business of wine, the elite level's of wine service or just being as knowledgeable as you can about wine? Lastly, do you have any interest in spirits, beer or cigars? Believe it or not, this will help me answer better.

        I'll respond in more depth once you answer as

        4 Replies
        1. re: ellaystingray

          I'm envisioning consulting for private clients and possibly creating events (such as leading wine tastings at private dinner parties, classes for novices on how to read a wine list, etc) as well as consult for restaurants that won't have an on-staff sommelier. Out of your goals listed above, I'd say I'd like to be as knowledgable about wine as possible. Finally, in regards to your last question, I have some interest in beer but think at this point my main focus is on wine. Thanks for taking the time to dig deeper with me.

          1. re: vinogirl212

            Okay, then I think you are on the right track. As I am sure you know, the true pinnicle of certifications are the M.S. and M.W. programs but aren't really necessary for your goals given the time and investment they require. I am slightly partial to the WSET program over the ASA as your goal isn't to be a sommelier. In Europe (I know you don't live in Europe) the WSET program has an even stronger rep than here. I think their rep will improve the longer they are here--it's only recently they've started teaching their classes regularly all over the U.S.

            Either way, you'll get good knowledge. But as noted by jock and tito , it can't be stated strongly enough that tasting, and then tasting some more, and then tasting after that is invaluable. All the better if you can taste in a group with people that know more than you so you can learn from them. Once nice thing about taking classes like this is that it will be fairly easy for you to put a diverse group together after getting to know each other a bit.

            Have fun!

            1. re: ellaystingray

              Thank you so much for your response! Can you outline the difference in curriculum between the 2 and why you think WSET might be a bit better? Their course agendas are nearly identical so I couldn't tell where they differ. However, ASA is also 24 weeks - do you know what they cover that's more in-depth?
              From a business perspective, will WSET also create good connections in the NY area? As ASA is NYC based they seem pretty linked into the wine/restaurant industry and I want to ensure WSET in NY has the same.

              Thanks again!

              1. re: vinogirl212

                Woah. Okay, let me try not to step in it here. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions about what certifications mean and which ones are "better" than others. Mix in geographical prestige/connections and there are a lot of variables here.

                Sadly, while I've worked the market many times, since I don't live in NY, I can't honestly say which program is better suited to get you "in" with the right circles in terms of your goals. As far as curriculum goes, with the detail you are asking for, I'd need to defer to someone who teaches one of the courses or has taken both.

                I was making my reccomendation based on your interest in overall wine knowledge, not planning on becoming a sommelier and the type of people you think you might be consulting for via your wine shop.

                Sorry I couldn't help more but as I said before, I think you'll be good with either. Or both!

        2. Hi Vinogirl212,

          I share similar visions with you regarding your career path and wanted to see if we could connect to talk about the courses and certificate programs you've completed. I am starting to research certificate programs & schools in the NYC area and would love your feedback and guidance based on your experience. Is there a way I can email you or connect outside the chowhound posting?

          Thanks!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: elgrasso1

            Hi elgrasso1,

            Happy to chat. Please email me at shana@shanaspeakswine.com.

          2. WSET.

            1. I could quite possibly be off-base here, but I'd suggest that the kind of client you're looking to serve would be more impressed by your having been a sommelier at restaurants with highly regarded wine programs, than by credentials they may not fully appreciate. As an alternative I'd think having sold for a quality distributor or broker would be attention-getting. if restaurant work isn't what you'd like. In that light, I'd be looking to see which program would impress those employers.

              Going with a credential program would speed up your timing, and may be quite sufficient, but I'm not sure the end-user of your service would care which program that is.

              Just my 2¢.