The WSET 4 (WSET Diploma)

WSET Diploma

Presentation of the WSET 4

The WSET Level 4, also known as the WSET Diploma, is the most advanced level of the WSET. Its curses represent a considerable amount of working time and investment. It also requires a very large volume of preparatory work. It is necessary to pass the WSET 3 to be able to integrate this course and it is not currently available in French. It is only available in English on the French territory, which is an additional difficulty because you will have to understand, interact, and write in English.

As an indication, whereas WSET 3 represents about 60 hours of work, the WSET Diploma requires a minimum of 600 hours of work  (including 116 hours face-to-face)! Yes 10 times more, and it is a minimum. 

The WSET Diploma is divided into 6 units that must be individually passed and therefore validated. These units represent different subjects that do not require the same hourly volume and do not have the same difficulty. However, be careful, as the average level of requirement remains high. If you are talking to a student of the WSET Diploma and you want to put pressure on him, remind him about Unit 3, which is by far the most difficult unit, and which is the one that requires the most amount of work!  

The goals of the WSET 4

The 6 units of the Wset Diploma must be validated individually. They represent different themes but some overlap, in particular the Unit 1 on production, which must be kept in mind to apprehend the particularities of a region, a grape variety etc. that one finds in the other units. 

Zoom on the 6 units of the WSET 4 :

– Unit 1 : Production part. The test consists of a series of short answers during 1 hour and a half of time.

– Unit 2 : Business part. The test  consists of a series of short answers during 1 hour. 

– Unit 3 : Wines of the world part. The test is divided into 2 parts which have to be validated separately: the theory, divided itself into two sessions of short answers on 3h20 in total; and the practice, also divided into two sessions with a total of 12 wines tasted blind for 3 hours. This is the most difficult unit of the WSET 4 and represents a large volume of work.

– Unit 4 : Sparkling part. The test consists of a series of short answers over 1 hour and a half, as well as a blind tasting of 3 sparkling wines. The two notes complement each other to form a single note. Thus, successful completion of one part makes it possible to compensate for a possible failure on the other part.  However it is necessary to obtain at least 45% each. 

– Unit 5 : Fortified part. The test consists of a series of short answers during 1 hour and a half as well as a blind tasting of 3 fortified wines. Thus, successful completion of one part makes it possible to compensate for a possible failure on the other part.  However it is necessary to obtain at least 45% each. 

– Unit 6 : Personal research. 2 subjects are designated per year. The total number of words required is approximately 3000 words. An important bibliography work is expected. 

WSET Diploma tasting
WSET Diploma tasting

Pass the Wset 4

The good news is that you have time to pass the entire WSET 4. Generally the time needed to pass the entire course ranges from a year and a half to 3 years, and you can choose the order of passage of the units you want. However, it is necessary to have passed the Unit 1 courses first, to be able to continue on the other units (which is logical since it is the unit on production, and it is intimately linked to the other units). Usually the Unit 3 is worked last because this strategy allows to focus only on this part and to benefit from the experience of past events. But the choice is yours. 

There are currently only two centers in France that give the Diploma curses, which adds a difficulty. You also have the possibility to do the online training and take the exams in England. It’s a flexible alternative, less expensive, but you miss out on the many wines tasted and commented during classes.

And after ? 

Once your 6 units have been validated, you will receive your WSET 4 diploma (+ a beautiful pin!). A graduation ceremony is held every year in London. You will then have the open doors of the WSET and will have the right to put the mention “DipWSET” next to your name, on your electronic signature, your professional profiles etc. They are at the present time (end 2020) nearly 10500 in the world. 

And if you are still motivated to learn more (or if you are crazy!) you will be able to access the prestigious curriculum of the IMW: the Institute of Master of Wines, whose obtaining the WSET 4 is a prerequisite to try to obtain the ultimate title of MW: Master of Wines! 

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