Get a wine qualification for free - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

It's totally free and it's totally online. The Level 2 Certificate in Wine Service is a qualification suitable for both wine enthusiasts and those working in restaurants and bars who want to know the fundamentals of grape varieties and wine styles as well as suggesting wines to match food. Study for 12 weeks using the online course materials and then take the three online one-hour exams that go with it.

Because it's at Level 2the qualification is at the same level as GCSE school exams and the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines.

Created by WineEd, a London-based wine education company, inconjunction with examboard SkillsFirst, the Level 2 Certificate in Wine Service was designed to be accessed through digital devices in short bursts.

"The target audience we initially wanted to have are those working in hospitality", says Leona De Pasquale, Head of Training at WineEd, "so when they have a couple of hours break they can then do the learning on their phones." 

"Everything is online." she says, "The course is always virtual. There is no face-to-face content. That is the beauty of it. It makes the learning of wine service easier and straightforward."

Leona de Pasquale then went on to explain that many of the 500 students who have enrolled so far "are certainly hospitality trade. But we are also seeing people who are interested in wine. It is about half and half. So half college students and half who are interested to learn more about wine."

As there are no start dates you can enroll at any time and get studying. And it's free. Government funding means that anyone can have the course fees paid for as long as they are aged over 19 and have been living in the UK or the EU for the last three years. It's available through South Essex College and Bournemouth and Poole CollegeApply directly to either of the colleges to sign up for the course.

And you don't need to have any prior wine knowledge, or have passed other wine exams, to take this course. Study the course over 12 weeks and spend about 3 to 6 hours a week using the online materials to grasp the fundamentals.

Broken down over three units the course covers:


Wine fundamentals

Wine producing regions around the world, grape varieties grown and how these are turned into wine plus the different colours and styles of wine.


Wine service

The best way to store wine and at what temperature, how to open a bottle of wine professionally and what type of glass to pour it into, matching wine to certain foods and how to choose a wine based on how food is cooked.


Interacting with customers

How to communicate what wines are available, listening to customers and asking pertinent questions to find out what wine they might like and then suggesting a wine to them.


Once you've read and interacted with all the material for each unit ("You can't progress onto a new module unless you click on all the images. This ensures they read it through.") there is a short assignment to do.

The online assignment for the first unit on wine fundamentals makes sure you understand which countries grow wine: "We will give them a map of different wine regions" says Leona de Pasquale, "and they have to identify the wine regions and the name of the countries. We want to make sure they understand this country has this named wine region which is famous. It will probably take ten minutes maximum."

"Once they have finished the assignment they can go straight to the [first] exam. It is online, so multiple-choices and some dragging and matching questions to make it more interesting. In terms of the dragging questions it might be for example 'In this region [shown] is it famous for red wine or white wine?' and they have to drag the answer. We want to make it more interactive."

Leona sounds quite proud of the content WineEd designed for the second unit covering wine service,

"There is a lot of video to watch because it is important to know how to open a sparkling bottle properly and decant wine. There is quite a big part about food and wine matching. We tell them about cooking methods and to think about cool climate or warm climate growing conditions. And instead of telling them about how this dish goes with that [wine] we tell them to think about the flavours of the dish."

The final unit on interacting with wine customers has an "assignment that is interesting. We want them to take an attitude quiz - to see if they are proactive so it would help them serve customers in a certain way."

The results of the three end of unit exams will decide if you pass. But there is still one more step in the process:

"After they have taken the exam online the college tutor will telephone the learner and ask them a few questions about the exam", explains Leona, "They will normally ask them the questions they got wrong."

An overall pass rate of 70% is required in order to get the certificate.

The exams consist of multiple-choice questions and some questions that require short answers of one or two sentences. Why don't you test yourself with these sample questions to see if you know as much about wine as holders of the Certificate in Wine Service:

Question 1

Which one of the statements below is true?

COOL climates are located at...

a)  ...higher altitudes, found closer to the equator 

b)  ...higher altitudes, found away from the equator

c)  ...lower altitudes, found closer to the equator

Correct answer b

Question 2

After opening a bottle, who should first be offered a taste of the wine to check it is acceptable?

a)  The oldest woman 

b)  The special guest

c)  The host

Correct answer c)


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