As the month of October draws near, so must I make final preparations for taking the CSW examination. For anyone considering the certificate or those just abound with curiosity I share my thoughts as to why, after considering the many reviews, countless discussions, and seemingly endless paths to wine-related fulfillment one might decide to sit for CSW.
#1: Jane Nickles – Director of the Society of Wine Educators; adorned and beloved wine scholar by those near and abroad; I’ll leave the remaining (and abundant) accolades for you to skim at your own leisure, or as she whimsically refers to it: Street Cred
In addition to the official texts that accompany the exam, Jane herself is available. Yeah, we hang out on Facebook. She conducts a preparatory course online with audio visual support on a weekly basis for students of the course. In addition, posts are issued (seemingly daily) as tips and tools via the social media site Facebook. These posts range anywhere from regional elements, varietal character, historical events, geography, enological factors and sometimes, uh-huh… puppies. This is, after all, social media. And for an analogical thinker as myself, I really do appreciate this expanded effort to draw from different learning styles while maintaining a concise flow of progressive information. In addition to live peer-to-peer interaction the texts follow online slides that may be viewed and set aside at your own pace, as I imagine it is not uncommon become overwhelmed by either the liquid in your glass or the sheer amount of content committed to the course while studying.
#2 Time & Money
We’re lumping these together since they tend to battle for the reigning title of most prevalent reason for objecting to a commitment. The recommended length of study time averages somewhere between six months to a year depending on your prior knowledge and skillset. I find this to be a balanced parameter that both encourages in-depth and lasting confidence in a person’s ability to recall most if not all of the material while being nudged along in a persistent fashion; furthermore, what this equates to is not only the ability to recall but make long term associations that can ultimately be conveyed in a teachable way, hence the progression of material from CSW to CWE.
Students of the course are encouraged to purchase a membership to the Society of Wine Educators as it benefits the exam credit pricing in addition to providing more resources for the candidate. Needless to say, the accreditation is HIGHLY competitively priced.
CSW is more than just another three letter acronym of authority, yet unfortunately if you spend time on the internet you will find those attempting to reducing it to such. This is not unique to CSW. What the Society of Wine Educators has done for me, is provided real context for me to develop my own culture and deeper understanding of why I enjoy this industry and this beverage so much. It’s the people, the land, the ideas both concrete and esoteric. It’s the privilege to think and feel in alignment with the philosophers, farmers and winemakers of past while interacting with the sommeliers, importers, and families of the present. If, like me, you wonder what it’s like to travel to lands unknown, or if you’ve ever just stared into a bottle of wine and wondered more than how many glasses it will take to get you buzzed, CSW can be a gateway to getting you there by cultivating a passion that has the nuance to be savored for a lifetime. You just have to take it.