Thursday, September 3, 2009


It’s official, I am a Certified Specialist of Wine, thanks to my passing (barely) the CSW exam held in Atlanta by the Society of Wine Educators. Now, for many of you, that begs the question, “What the hell does that mean?”

Well, for starters, the Society of Wine Educators is a non-profit educational organization, founded in 1974, to help promote wine education through various professional development programs and certification processes. The CSW certificate is the first step in becoming a Certified Wine Educator, one of the many letters I have been chasing for several years now.

I’ve passed the first level test of the Master Sommelier program, which was a 75 question test, multiple choice, and you had a day-and-a-half seminar which served as an overview/prep session for the CS (Certified Sommelier) and Advanced Sommelier tests. While it took many years to study and prepare for the 1st level test, the review session helps fill in some gaps you may have from information overload. Unlike the first MS test, the exam for the CSW is 100 questions, based solely on the study guide they provide, and is far more detailed and far more specific than the former. It is a much tougher test than the first MS. It is a different focus – restaurant for the sommelier, education obviously for the SWE – yet the intentions are the same – excellence in the field of wine.
It is a weird feeling to being one step further in my own pursuit of all these certifications (the two aforementioned along with the Master of Wine (MW) program). I really backed into this line of work, thinking I would be an English professor or a Linguist. All the years of schlepping around in the restaurant biz led me here. One down and many more tests to go. I just hope it won't take as long as I took getting my Bachelor's degree (14 years). I just might be ready for retirement by then.


Michelle Lentz said...

Congratulations! I've got the study guide but I'm afraid to open it. JP over at Party Town says the test was amazingly easy - you say it's hard. Ack! I test so poorly (always have) that I just know I'd never pass.


k2 said...

I think JP was probably more prepared than I. And driving for 7 hours the night before wasn't too swift either. I think you sell yourself short. I think you could pass it as long as you study.

Elisa Kwon said...

Good luck with your studies.

k2 said...

Thanks Elisa. Appreciate the support.

Eliette said...

Congratulations on passing your CSW exam! Would you say there's more to study for the CSW or MS level 1? Thank you.