If you would like to build a career in the world of wine and spirits, you will need to pursue education in the intriguing field of wine studies. Wine education classes prepare you for a variety of careers including sommelier, wine supervisor, beverage manager, wine sales representative, and so much more. Some wine schools require you to take beverage management courses that culminate in a beverage management degree, while other programs are designed for non-degree seeking wine professionals and enthusiasts. Exploring the art and science of wine and spirits can be a fascinating start to a career in the beverage industry.
Prerequisites for Beverage and Wine Education Classes
Types of Programs
There are three main types of wine education programs you can pursue. Students can choose to take separate courses that award certificates of completion; take courses that lead up to a formal examination; or enroll in a beverage management program, which discusses both wine and spirits, and culminates in a degree. Many programs are also available online for those who have difficulty attending regular classes in-person.
Wine Course Prerequisites
Admissions requirements at schools that award wine industry certificates and credentials range from just requiring candidates to be 21 years of age to requiring them to have work experience in the field. Wine courses can last anywhere from a few hours or days to several weeks.
Beverage Management Degree Prerequisites
Programs that offer associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in either beverage management or food and beverage management typically require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED, a minimum required GPA, and minimum required SAT/ACT scores. Associate’s degrees take two years to complete, and bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete.
Curriculum for Wine Studies Courses
Wine studies programs are designed to provide individuals with an in-depth understanding of wine over a relatively short period of time. At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate proficiency in articulating their knowledge of wine when serving others in either a professional or recreational capacity. Courses may cover topics, such as:
- Viticulture & wine production
- Wine tasting & assessment skills
- Fundamentals of serving wine
- Beer & spirits tasting
- Wine grapes & regions
- Food-and-wine pairing
- Wine salesmanship
- Business side of wine & spirits
Upon passing the course, students may receive certain qualification, such as Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Wine Professional, French Wine Scholar, California Wine Appellation Specialist or Certified Sommelier.
Curriculum for Beverage Management Courses
Beverage management courses balance education in wine and spirits with a thorough introduction to basic business and hospitality management concepts. Courses that students might be required to take include the following:
- Bartending & mixology
- Marketing for hospitality
- Food service operations
- Food safety & sanitation
- Distilled spirits
- Principles of accounting
- Introduction to hospitality management
- Domestic wines
- Foreign wines
- Beverage management
Beverage management courses will typically encompass hands-on training so that students can gain practical experience. Students may also be required to complete an externship to obtain skills in a real-world environment.
Career Opportunities After Graduation
Today, many restaurants and hospitality establishments consider strong beverage sales crucial to success. As a result, there is a greater demand for wine experts and skilled beverage operations managers. Upon graduating from a wine education or beverage management program, students may qualify for entry-level management positions in restaurants, hotels or other managed food service industries.
Potential Career Paths
Potential career options in the wine and beverage field include:
- Wine bar assistant manager
- Beverage consultant
- Hotel bar manager
- Assistant food and beverage director
- Food and beverage manager
- Winery tasting room manager
- Beverage wholesaler sales representative
- Wine buyer for retail chain
- Wine sales professional
The duties of a sommelier may include helping customers match wine with food to augment the food’s flavor, educating diners about different wines and vintages, and decanting wines. The responsibilities of a food and beverage manager may include ensuring that customers are satisfied with the dining experience, overseeing inventory and the ordering of food and beverages, and monitoring the actions of employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report data on jobs within the wine and beverage industry specifically. However, in 2013, waiters and waitresses earned a median annual salary of 18,590, and food service managers earned $48,080.
From 2010 to 2020, the employment of all food and beverage serving workers is expected to increase by 12%, which is a rate that is as fast as average, while positions for food service managers should decline 3%. Although employment in food service is expected to be favorable, due to high turnover rates and an increase in fast food and casual establishments, positions in upscale restaurants will be strongly competitive. Roles at the supervisory level will be even more competitive, as restaurant owners are expected to consolidate management positions.
Increasing Your Prospects
If you want to make a living by tasting, selling, serving or educating others about wine and spirits, consider enrolling at a wine school today. Those who have a qualification or degree in the beverage industry, as well as practical experience, will have the best job prospects in the field.[schools cid=1013 sub=Culinary%20%26%20Hospitality scat=Wine%20Studies csrc=state]