The 2018 CSW Study Guide and Workbook are here!

.

.

What do all of these items have in common: The Petaluma Gap AVA…the Delle Venezie DOC…the Vézelay AOC…and the “New” New Zealand geographical indications? Answer: they are newly-changed or updated topics in the world of wine—launched in 2017! You’ll find all of these updates (and more) in the just-launched, 2018 version of the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Study Guide and Workbook.

We’ve also made a change in how the books are distributed, and the 2018 CSW Study Guide and Workbook are now in stock and shipping from Amazon.com. 

Click here to find the 2018 CSW Study Guide on Amazon. The cost is $49.

Click here to find the CSW Workbook 2018 on Amazon. The cost is $39.

CSW Exam Availability: CSW Exams based on the 2018 edition of the Study Guide will be available at Pearson Vue Testing Centers starting on February 1, 2018. Exams based on the 2017 book are also still available (for those that have a 2017 exam attendance credit) and will continue to be available until July of 2020.

Online Prep Course: Our next instructor-led CSW Online Prep Course is scheduled to begin in May 2018. For this class, students may use either the 2017 or the 2018 version of the CSW Study Guide and Workbook. The aim of the prep course is to get attendees “as prepared as humanly possible” for a successful sitting of the CSW Exam. Online prep courses are available, free-of-charge, to Professional members of SWE who have a valid CSW Exam attendance credit.

The CSW Exam may be purchased via the SWE website: Click here to purchase the CSW Exam.

Click here for an addendum listing the substantive changes between the 2017 and 2018 versions of the CSW Study Guide: Addendum for the CSW 2018 Study Guide

Flashcards and Practice Quizzes: Our popular flashcard and practice quizzes have also been updated for 2018 (and the 2017 versions remain available). The cost for these products is $19 each. Click here for the flashcards and practice quizzes.

If you have any questions regarding the CSW Study Guides or Exams, please contact our Director of Education at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

The Certified Wine Educator Manual for Candidates 2018 is here!

.

.

SWE is happy to announce the publication of our latest text on the subject of wine and spirits education, The 2018 Certified Wine Educator Manual for Candidates!

This 140-page book is intended as a guide to help candidates successfully prepare for the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) Exam. The book contains seven chapters as well as several appendixes.  The main topics of the chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1—Introduction to the CWE Exam: An overview of the various components of the exam, the objectives of the exam, and what to expect on test day.

Chapter 2—The Multiple-Choice Exam:  Study tips, suggested study focus, test day advice, and an 85-question multiple-choice practice exam.

Chapter 3—The Essay Exam: Advice on how to study and practice for timed essay questions using the “five-step” method of essay construction, exercises for creating the various parts of an essay outline, multiple “practice” essay questions, advice on writing well, and test day tips. Sample essay outlines and sample (successful) essays.

.

.

Chapter 4—The Varietal/Appellation Identification Exam: Advice on semi-blind tasting, 36 iconic wines (presented in six suggested practice flights of six wines each) detailed for typical profile with tasting sheets for you to fill in your own observations, a list of suggested wines for study, benchmarks for wine styles, and test day advice.

Chapter 5—The Logical Tasting Rationale: Detailed information on how to complete a wine tasting note using SWE’s Logical Tasting Rationale, sensory and technical definitions of all of the terms used on the tasting note, sample tasting notes, and test day advice.

Chapter 6—The Faults and Imbalances Identification Exam: Background information on the faults and imbalances, instructions on how to use the SWE faults kit (or make your own), a sample tasting exercise, sensory benchmarks for each fault, and test day advice.

.

.

Chapter 7—The Presentation Skills Demonstration: Information on learning objectives, a template for creating presentation outlines/abstracts, a sample presentation outline, and advice on oration, organization, the use of supporting materials, and audience engagement.

Note: This is an update from our first (2016) version of the Manual and while this book is more of a “skills manual” than a “textbook,” it does contain some significant changes. Click here for a document that details the changes from the 2016 book/exam to the 2018 version: Addendum for the 2018 Cerfied Wine Educator Candidate Manual

The CWE Manual for Candidates is available for purchase now on Amazon. The cost is $49. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jane Nickles, our Director of Education and Certification – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Good luck with your studies!

CSW Practice Tests and Quizzes!

.

.

Are you nervous about your upcoming CSW exam?

Has it been a while since you took the CSW exam, and you’d like to know if you “still got it”?

Are you considering studying for the CSW and would like to know how it stacks up against other programs you’ve taken?

Are you a wine student looking for some new study tools?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we have an announcement for you! We now have a suite of CSW practice quizzes and practice exams available! The complete set includes five practice quizzes (each based on the entirety of the Study Guide and Workbook) of 25 questions each, and three complete 100-question practice exams. The practice exams may be taken in either a “quiz” format (where you get the results to each individual question immediately), or in a timed, one-hour “practice exam” format. The price is $19.00, which includes unlimited use of the exams and quizzes for six months.

For more information, click here (navigate to “course catalog”) 

 

 

Guest Post: CWE Boot Camp—Are You Ready to Pass the Exam?

.

.

Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW. Elizabeth tells us about her experience at CWE Boot Camp!

CWE Boot Camp: are you ready to pass the exam?

Officially called Preview Seminar, CWE Boot Camp is a special training designed for those people who want to take the Certified Wine Educator exam. One might wonder: “if I feel confident, why should I attend it?” I will answer this question from my personal experience.

I registered for Boot Camp this year, in the context of the Society of wine Educators Annual Conference. I wanted to know how prepared—or not prepared at all—I was to take the exam.

One of the many reasons this experience was important for me is because I wanted to get as much information as I could—particularly as related to the theory/written component. There is not too much time in a one-day workshop to go depth in terms of theory, and that is obviously something you have to study by yourself. However, Jane Nickles, SWE’s Director of Education and Certification and the leader of this seminar as well, gave the attendees not only some study tips but also exam strategies, including logical thinking tools.

.

.

And then there’s the essay. You know the material, you feel ready to be tested, but do you really know how to express your ideas coherently in an essay? During this seminar, you exercise how to schematize your ideas, breaking them in three main parts: introduction, key points and conclusion. Practice, practice, practice!

Tasting is the other component of the exam. Blind tasting is a challenge for most people. As you probably know, during the CWE Exam you have two identification portions: Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances. As wine professionals, we are tasting wines very often. But what are you tasting and what will show up during the exam? The CWE Preview Exam confers you the opportunity to know the dynamic around the Varietal and Appellation wine identification through an amazing tasting of four flights of six wines each, followed by a two mock exams. By the end of this section, you’ll know exactly whether or not you are ready for the exam.

Going back to the point I am trying to make here: maybe you could feel you are ready, but suddenly you are in front of some wines you have never tasted before… Or you thought you could clearly distinguish between an Oregon Pinot Noir and a red Burgundy, but during Boot Camp you realize you are not that good.

.

.

Something similar can happens to you during the Faults/Imbalances wine identification. If you are not familiar with them (that is, if you have not practiced with the SWE Wine Fault Kit before), you will be surprised. The good news is that, during Boot Camp, the instructor explains how this portion of the exam works and additionally unveils some “tricks” for selecting the correct answer. However, you have to practice and sharpen your senses to do a good job.

Why should you take to CWE Preview Seminar? Two answers: if you—like me—want to get a personal and closer look to the different components of the exam in order to measure how ready or not you are, this is the most valuable chance you will have. On the other hand, if you are confident you are ready, you can pre-test yourself during this event, especially in the Varietal and Appellation and Faults/Imbalances components of the exam. If you do great, take the next step. If you don’t, breathe deeply and continue practicing. You will do better next time.

After my experience, I truly believe that being part of the CWE Preview Seminar gives you a great opportunity to be part of the reduced amount of people who pass the entire CWE Exam in their first-time. Don’t you want to be in that 12%? I do!

Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW

Elizabeth Yabrudy, CSS, CSW

Keep studying, continue practicing, taste as much wines as you can, but overall, have fun during the whole experience. And, of course, register yourself for the next CWE Boot Camp.

Cheers!

About the author: Elizabeth Yabrudy is a sommelier and journalist residing in Venezuela. She stays busy teaching and writing about wine and spirits, as well as leading tastings and service training. In addition to her CSS and CSW credentials, Elizabeth has a Master’s Degree in Electronic Publishing from City University in London. You can find her online at ElizabethYabrudy.wordpress.com.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

Announcing the CWE Candidate Manual!

CWE ManualSWE is happy to announce the publication of our latest text on the subject of wine and spirits education, The 2016 CWE Manual for Candidates

The 124-page book is unlike anything we have published before and is intended as a guide to help candidates successfully prepare for the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) Exam. The book contains seven chapters as well as several appendixes.  The main topics of the chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1 – Introduction to the CWE Exam: An overview of the various components of the exam, the objectives of the exam, and what to expect on test day.

Chapter 2 – The Multiple-Choice Exam:  Study tips, suggested study focus, test day advice, and an 85-question multiple-choice practice exam.

Chapter 3 – The Essay Exam: Advice on how to study and practice for timed essay questions using the “five-step” method of essay construction, exercises for creating the various parts of an essay outline, multiple “practice” essay questions, advice on writing well, and test day tips. Sample essay outlines and sample (successful) essays.

Chapter 4 – The Varietal/Appellation Identification Exam: Advice on semi-blind tasting, 24 iconic wines (presented in four suggested practice flights of 6 wines each) detailed for typical profile with tasting sheets for you to fill in your own observations, a list of suggested wines for study, benchmarks for wine styles, and test day advice.

Chapter 5 – The Logical Tasting Rationale: Detailed information on how to complete a wine tasting note using SWE’s Logical Tasting Rationale, sensory and technical definitions of all of the terms used on the tasting note, sample tasting notes, and test day advice.

CWE FaultsChapter 6 – The Faults and Imbalances Identification Exam: Background information on the faults and imbalances, instructions on how to use the SWE faults kit (or make your own), a sample tasting exercise, sensory benchmarks for each fault, and test day advice.

Chapter 7 – The Presentation Skills Demonstration: Information on learning objectives, a template for creating presentation outlines/abstracts, a sample presentation outline, and advice on oration, organization, the use of supporting materials, and audience engagement.

The CWE Manual for Candidates is available for purchase now on the SWE Website. The cost is $50 for members/$100 for non-members. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jane Nickles, our Director of Education and Certification.  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Good luck with your studies!

So many wine books, so little time…

Books and red wineToday we have a guest blog from Certified Wine Educator, Brenda Audino. Brenda shares with us a topic that is dear to the hearts of wine lovers the world over….books about wine!  

In the pursuit of greater wine knowledge I have found the greatest expense to be in the wine.  It takes a lot of wine bottles to truly “understand” the nuances of each wine region both great and small.  The second largest expense for me have been the wine books.  There are an endless amount of books covering everything from encyclopedic to specifics; from terroir to marketing.  I have found though that even with an extensive wine library there are a handful of books that are my “go to” selection in starting any wine related research.

I have categorized my wine library into three main categories; general reference, specific area (viticulture, vinification, and wine region) and wine themed pleasure books.  This categorization enables me to quickly gather the books I need.

Of course, the list of my favorite wine books includes the CSW Study Guide – but I assume that is that same for all of you as well!

So, here are a few of my favorite books and why they are always next to me at my desk:

The Oxford Companion to Wine – 3rd Edition, Jancis Robinson: This is definitely encyclopedic and not one I would recommend to read from cover to cover.  Excellent resource in digging deeper into a subject.   Fair warning though, in each entry there will be reference to other sections and these refer to even more sections that can keep you flipping pages for hours.

The World Atlas of Wine – 7th Edition, Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson: This book is quite large, but not overly daunting to read through a chapter or two a week.  The info graphs are clear and assist in the understanding of the corresponding text.  While there is beautiful photography throughout, my favorite part of this book must be the maps!  They have a high level of detail, but are also easy to review.

booksHow to Pronounce French, German, and Italian Wine Names; Diana Bellucci: Although I dislike butchering foreign wine names in the privacy of my own brain, when it comes to speaking them out loud it is extremely important to get the pronunciation correct.  As a wine educator it is critical!  I have quickly come to realize that my two years of French in high school did little to prepare me in my wine career.  This book with its easy to understand techniques helps me get as close to the true pronunciation without having to be fluent in all of these languages.

Understanding Wine Technology; David Bird, MW:  I am not a winemaker and even though I have visited many wineries nothing can be said for the hands-on experience working day in day out guiding a wine from vine to bottle.  This book, though, for me, gives the information needed to gain a glimpse into the science behind the wine.  This book covers a broad range from the mysteries of the vineyard, the components of grapes, producing and adjusting the juice (must), complexities of fermentation and the winemaking process, quality control and assurance.

Wine Grapes, Jances Robinson, Julia Harding, & José Vouillamoz: This is my newest “wine geek” book.  Detailed origins, viticultural characteristics, where it’s grown and what its wine taste like on every grape imaginable along with many more that I never heard of.  This is a tomb of a book, but completely satisfying to heave out for research on individual grapes.  Jancis Robinson has released several pocket guides on wine varieties and this book feels like the culmination of all of these works with details of over 1300 different varieties. The Pinot pedigree diagram is more complete than my own family tree!  The pictures of grape varieties look like pieces of frame-worthy art.  This is a book I can (and do) get lost in.

Wine & War, Don & Petie Kladstrup: The story of how wine played a role in France’s fight during World War II.  The narrative follows five winemaking families from France’s key wine-producing regions of Burgundy, Alsace, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, and Champagne and their struggles to save the heart and soul of France.  I found this an enjoyable and lively read after a day of studying.

Books and wine fire placeI now realize that I can and will have a lifelong mission to study and learn more about wine.  I am also interested in what others find useful in their pursuit of knowledge.  What are some of your favorite “go to” books that you use in your education journey?

Post authored by Brenda Audino, CWE. After a long career as a wine buyer with Twin Liquors in Austin, Texas, Brenda has recently moved to Napa, California (lucky!) where she runs the Spirited Grape wine consultancy business. Brenda is a long-time member of SWE and has attended many conferences – be sure to say “hi” at this year’s conference in NOLA!

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

Guest Post: Pearson VUE Testing – A Candidate’s View!

Today we have a guest post by a recent CSW candidate who has generously agreed to share her Pearson VUE testing experience with us! Hopefully this will give all you CSW and CSS aspirants out there a realistic, personal insight into what you can expect from a Pearson VUE test.  In a nutshell:  it’s great!

computer keyboardOur intrepid reporter goes by the code name “Candi” Candidate, CSW. (Spoiler alert:  she passed!) Read on to hear Candi’s experience, and her useful tips as well:

I began studying for the CSW exam in January, 2014. By early May, I decided that late May would be my target time for the test. Conveniently, the remote testing option at Pearson VUE became available, so I scheduled my test on the first day that the scheduling was “live.” Without my Pearson VUE option, the nearest test site would have been about 50 miles away, with unpredictable traffic. Pearson VUE, with choice of location, date, and time, was a much better alternative.

My test site was 10 miles from my home. I was able to schedule my first choice of date and location with about 2 weeks’ notice.

As suggested, I arrived 30 minutes before the scheduled test time. Upon arrival, I learned that I was the first CSW candidate at this test site. I was the alpha! Once the identification and security process was complete, I was able to begin testing early.

Testing was done in a room with about 12 small cubicles. I chose to use the provided noise-canceling headset. Dead silence. I received instructions on the testing software via a short tutorial program. The tutorial will review your options for proceeding with the test. The software was straightforward; if you’ve taken online tests or even Internet quizzes before, you can easily do it.

Everyone has their own test-taking strategy. I chose to take my time, answer every question, and then review all of my answers. Answering all of the questions took 40-45 minutes, reviewing took about 10 minutes, and I submitted my answers with about 5 minutes to spare. Done! Deep breath!

Computer Testing CenterAfter leaving the testing room, I went back to the area where I initially checked in. There, I was given a 2-page printout of the results. Immediate feedback! My eyes focused on two words in the middle of the page: GRADE: PASS.

Another deep breath! A big smile to the friendly guy who checked me in and out!

Would I use the Pearson VUE testing option again? Absolutely. Convenient location and scheduling. Professional staff. Simple testing software. And did I mention immediate feedback?

Based on my experience, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Verify driving directions. I received directions with my scheduling confirmation, but they were not as specific as typical online driving directions. Since you may be driving under (ahem) some stress, why not get more information before test day?
  2. Expect tight security. The Pearson VUE experience included detailed identity verification, a candidate photograph, multiple palm prints, demonstrating that my pockets were empty, and video/audio monitoring in the testing room. While this may seem like overkill, Pearson VUE provides a wide range of testing for many organizations. It appears that all candidates are subjected to the same, rigorous procedure. Personally, the worst part was being photographed. I did not see the photograph. I did not want to see the photograph. I am sure it was just as charming as the one that appears on my driver’s license.
  3. Follow Pearson VUE instructions. Your confirmation will tell you what is needed and what is not allowed. After my identity was confirmed, I was required to secure all items in a provided locker. I was allowed one form of ID in the testing room.   Nothing, and I mean nothing, else was allowed.
  4. champagne toastUse the tutorial. While the software seemed simple to me, why not take advantage of everything available to help you along the way?
  5. Develop a plan. You will have 100 questions to answer within 60 minutes. The tutorial will show you your options for proceeding. What worked for me might not be your best strategy. Just as everyone learns differently, everyone tests differently.

Now, time to celebrate with a special glass of vin/vinho/vino/wein/wine. Cheers!

Click here for more information on CSS and CSW Exams at Pearson.

We are live at Pearson Vue Testing Centers!

Pearson is aliveAfter months of preparation, SWE is pleased to announce that our CSS and CSW Exams are ready, published, and awaiting candidates at Pearson Testing Centers worldwide!

Candidates have begun receiving their authorization emails and can now make appointments for the CSS and CWE exams at the testing center of their choice. The first exams are scheduled for 9:00 am on Monday, May 5th. (I have an appointment for the CSW Exam on Wednesday, May 7th at 10:00 am, at a Pearson Vue Testing Center two miles from my house – I’d better start studying now.)

With each new purchase of a CSS or CSW Exam through the SWE website, candidates will receive an “authorization to test” email from Pearson Vue. Candidates may then use this letter, and the “Candidate ID number” it contains, to make an appointment at a Pearson Vue Center for their exam. If you have previously purchased your exam, and would like to test at Pearson, please email Ben Coffelt of the SWE Home Office and he will arrange to have the information sent to you.

Click here for the SWE “Landing Page” on Pearson Vue’s website.  You’ll find all the information you need to locate a testing center near year, make an appointment, and prepare for your exam on SWE’s landing page.

Click here for a step-by-step visual guide to How to sign up for a Pearson Vue Exam-SWE .

If you have any questions or comments concerning the CSS and CSW Exams at Pearson Vue Testing Centers, please contact Jane A. Nickles, our Director of Education, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org.

Good luck with your studies!