Potential beverage producers and sales representatives, general enthusiasts, and culinary professionals seeking a deeper knowledge of wines and spirits can all benefit from advanced wine and spirits studies. Most often, courses in this field are provided to supplement other culinary arts and hospitality programs ranging from technical certificates to associate's in science degrees to bachelor's level degrees in beverage, hospitality, and spirits.
A few colleges and international organizations also provide programs for specialized certifications in wine and spirits that open up professional networking and career advancement opportunities. One example is the elusive Master of Wine program offered by the Institute of Masters of Wine in Europe, Australasia, and North America. The program provides winemakers, journalists, business owners, consultants, and more with a comprehensive understanding of wine production and theory.
Relevant careers for advanced wine and spirits studies include:
- Restaurant owner
- Food management
- Product development
- Sales and marketing
- Wine and spirit distributor
Wine and spirits courses vary in length and intensity. Students will find that courses in this field can also vary greatly by region, and course content may combine technical training with historical and cultural explorations. Furthermore, many courses include alcoholic beverage tastings, so those who wish to participate in the United States must be 21 years or older.
Typical subjects taught in wine and spirits courses include:
- Types and classes of grapes, wines and spirits
- Taste and food interaction
- State, US, and international spirit-related law
- Climate effects on vineyard health
- Marketing, sales, and business-related issues
List of Courses
International Wines Course
During courses in international wines, students learn about the leading wine industry regions of the world and how their climates and geographical conditions affect taste and viticulture practices. The wines of France, Italy, and Spain, whose high-quality wines are well known amongst professionals and enthusiasts alike, are often covered in depth. Additional European and Eastern European locations, as well as popular wine-producing states of the U.S., like California, may also be discussed. The wines of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America are frequently examined as well.
Food and Beverage Pairings Course
With a food and beverage pairings course, students learn to hone their skills in recognizing drinks and foods that complement each other when consumed together. The primary taste characteristics found in all foods - sweet, salty, savory and bitter - are discussed in relation to how they work with the flavor of different beverages. Global cuisine and ingredients are covered in this course so that students develop a broad, yet keen, understanding of pairing for compatibility and optimal taste enjoyment.
Spirits Varieties Course
Classes focused on the varieties of spirits usually go over the cultural traditions, history, production techniques and characteristics of such drinks. White spirits, brandies and liqueurs, as well as bourbon, scotch and whiskey are typically discussed. Students also learn how to evaluate and identify the various distinguishing flavors of the world's spirits and may practice basic mixology skills.
Viticulture and Winery Technology Course
Viticulture and winery technology courses cover the historical and geographical implications of the world's many wines. Methods for propagating and cultivating various grape species and varieties are discussed. Topics impacting a vineyard's health, such as climate, soil, irrigation, fertilization, pest management, disease control, weeding and pruning, are examined. Students also learn about wine fermentation and proper handling, bottling and storing techniques.
Wine and Spirits Business Course
A wine and spirits business course teaches the fundamentals of the operations of this industry. The local, national and global structures of the business are analyzed, and students gain a comprehensive vocabulary for use as a credible industry leader. They learn about effective marketing and sales strategies and common financing and accounting issues that industry professionals may face. The legal and regulatory aspects of selling wine and spirits is another course topic. Many business classes also cover supply chain and cost management.