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Top Schools with Sommelier Training: Information and Overview

Learn about sommelier training programs, which can help students prepare for careers in the wine and food industries. Read about the programs offered at three noteworthy universities, and find a handy table that lists other schools around the U.S. that provide training for aspiring sommeliers.

School Information

Sommelier training programs are usually offered through college hospitality departments or extended studies programs. Once enrolled, students can learn wine-tasting techniques and how to pair wines with different types of cuisine. The three schools discussed below include two national and one regional university. Successful completion of their sommelier programs can lead to a specialized certificate, diploma or degree.

Top U.S. Schools with Sommelier Training Programs

1. The University of California, Irvine

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a research-based institution that U.S. News & World Report ranked 45th among national universities on its list of 2012 Best Colleges. UCI offers a specialized studies certificate program in wine for individuals who wish to increase their knowledge of wine selection. Students explore the history of wine and wine-producing regions, as well as specific varietals, like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

2. The University of Houston in Houston, TX

In 2012, the Princeton Review included the University of Houston (UH) on its list of Best 376 Colleges. UH's continuing education program offers a 6-month sommelier diploma program. Courses in the program are taught by members of the International Sommelier Guild and include topics in wine terminology, cellaring, tasting techniques and menu design. Among the more than 200 academic programs of study found at UH, aspiring sommeliers can find other relevant courses of study, such as business and hotel restaurant management.

3. Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI

Johnson and Wales (J&W) University was ranked 82nd among regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report on its 2012 Best Colleges list. The College of Hospitality at J&W offers a number of degrees in hospitality-related areas, including lodging, tourism management and culinary arts. Students enrolled in the hospitality program can choose a concentration in sommelier studies. Core coursework includes topics in winemaking, spirits management and mixology.

J&W also offers continuing education courses and certificate programs for those who want to learn about wine and spirits without completing a degree program. These courses are aimed at preparing wine enthusiasts for professional credentialing exams, such as the Certified Specialist of Wine exam.

List of Ten Good Sommelier Schools in the U.S.

School Name Distinction Location
Florida International University Co-hosts annual Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival Miami, FL
Johnson and Wales University Hospitality College offers 19 concentrations Providence, RI
Lake Washington Technical College Wine technology program offers internship opportunities in wineries Kirkland, WA
Purdue University Hosted the first on-campus master sommelier class in the U.S. West Lafayette, IN
Saint Paul College Culinary Arts Wine Professional Certificate program St. Paul, MN
San Diego State University Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine San Diego, CA
Sonoma State University Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with an emphasis on the wine business Rohnert Park, CA
University of California, Irvine Offers the only university-level wine study program in Orange County, CA for those who are serious about learning wine Irvine, CA
University of Houston Wine and Spirits Management Institute Houston, TX
University of South Carolina Culinary and Wine Institute at Carolina Columbia, SC

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