On-island wine training: Become a sommelier

4 mins readMar 10, 2021

Wine professionals working in wine-related industries, and enthusiasts, will have the opportunity to uncork their expertise early this year in courses presented by Wineschool3 at Le Petit Bar, located in the Jacques Scott Plaza, West Bay. 
Wineschool3, the internationally recognised Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) qualifications, will offer courses this April and May. 
The courses will be led by Wineschool3’s Lead Educator Christian Esser who [pre COVID], travelled more than 100,000 miles annually to deliver wine education in the Caribbean and Latin American region. 
Christian is no stranger to working in the industry, gaining his formal degree whilst planting, nurturing and harvesting vines across the Pacific Ocean, in New Zealand. 
Christian has called Cayman home for close to a decade, you may have seen him demonstrating his knowledge and passion for wine and service at Grand Old House or Ortanique, once in Camana Bay. 
Disappointed by the lack of training opportunities available on-island, he established Wineschool3, training locals, international wine professionals and enthusiasts. His passion is clear and sharing his deep personal knowledge with students, freely, he does with flair.
WSET Level I is an introductory course, Level II more detailed. Successful completion of these bestows a junior sommelier designation. A successful Level III exam qualifies a person: Sommelier. Courses appeal to many, attracting both wine buffs and service professionals who work in restaurants, hotels and the wine and spirits industry.
“As our school’s slogan suggests we keep things ‘liquid, lively, fun’,” Mr Esser said, “but Level III is not for the faint-hearted. Level III is definitely work, it’s not just thinking about, and drinking, wine, it’s analysing where the wine is from and the ‘why?’ behind it – the soil type, the ‘terroir’, the winemaking, the wine-growing — equipping you with the knowledge to understand the total practice of the wines. Levels I and II are more fun and easy going.”
“I think of WSET training as a mountain,” Esser says. “Level I is base camp, at Level II you’ve done a bit of a walk, while Level III is the push to the peak of the mountain. There is, literally, a mountain of difference between Levels II and III.”
“Level II is for working professionals and wine enthusiasts; Level III is for people who are working with wine daily and are expected to impart knowledge to the consumer. If you enjoy wine at your table, I highly recommend having Level II experience. A wine buff can jump into Level II without doing Level I, but to  move straight to Level III before completing Level II is not recommended!”
Pass rates globally for Levels I and II, Mr. Esser says, are 90 per cent. Contrast this to the pass rate for Level III, which drops to 50%, and you can see the dedication and knowledge required is more significant.
The WSET Level I award in wines course will be held on Saturday April 17 from 9am until 4pm. An exam will be held on Saturday, May 15 at 9am. The cost of the course is $375 and includes course materials, all the wines you will be tasting and a light breakfast and lunch.
The hands-on course will teach participants to understand more about wine through sight, smell and taste. By the end of the course, you will be able to taste wine using a systematic approach, identify key styles of wine and know the characteristics of important grape varieties. You will also learn the key principles of food and wine pairing and how to apply these to your own food and wine choices.
The WSET Level II award in wines and spirits course will be held over three consecutive Saturdays starting April 24, from 9am to 4pm daily. An exam will be held on Saturday, May 15. The cost of the course is $895 and as with Level I includes all materials, wines and refreshments throughout the days.
For Level II you’ll build your knowledge with the well structured and informative course that explores major grape varieties and important regions that define the world’s key wines. You will learn about production, key labelling terminology and major classifications to help you identify wines with confidence. A basic introduction to the main spirits categories will also be provided in an online video segment and in-class revision exercise.
The WSET Level III award in wines is a nine-week, online programme with an online educator to guide participants. You have access to course materials for a full year. To supplement the online course and embed your knowledge, tasting workshops will be held in October over three consecutive Saturdays starting October 2 at 9am through 4pm. The exam will be held on December 13 at 9am. If, for whatever circumstance, you are not able to complete the course by that date, a second exam date will also be made available early in 2022. The cost of the course is $1,695.
This is an advanced level qualification for professionals working in the wine industry and for wine enthusiasts. For individuals seeking to delve deeper into the world of wines, this qualification provides a detailed understanding of grape growing and winemaking. Upon completion, you will be able to assess wines accurately, and use your understanding to confidently explain wine style and quality.
To register, visit www.wineschool3.com or call 345-938-0458 to speak directly with Christian Esser.
Class sizes are capped at 12. Registration closes 1 week before the course begins. Payment plans are available. Breakfast and lunch are provided. For more information either visit the Web site, or email us.