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”) 



And the Lembeck Award goes to…

Bill and Harriet Lembeck with the Lembeck Award

Bill and Harriet Lembeck with the Lembeck Award

Last August, at SWE’s 41st Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon, a new tradition was begun. Barry Wiss CWE, the President of SWE, inaugurated a new annual award—to be known as the Lembeck Award. The Lembeck Award is intended to serve as a lifetime achievement award, presented annually to a person (or persons) for service to the wine and spirits industry and specifically, for outstanding support of the goals and programs of SWE.

It was a wonderful moment, at our conference luncheon on Thursday, August 10, 2017 when Barry presented the Lembeck Award to its first recipients—who after all, are the namesake of the award itself—Bill and Harriet Lembeck. In order to mark this occasion, I asked both Bill and Harriet to share a bit of their thoughts on the award, and to tell us about their involvement with the Society over the years.

Harriet’s journey in the wine and spirits field began with a part-time job at Hammacher-Schlemmer in New York City. One day a new product—a wine thermometer—arrived and she needed to research the proper service temperature of wines to create a list to be packaged with the thermometer. Harriet says, “I remembered that there was a book called ‘Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits’ that listed wine service temperatures, and I went to the NY Public Library to look them up. By a quirk of fate, I met the late Harold Grossman at the library, and he told me the answers to my question! Then he told me to take his wine course. I did. Then he asked me to work for him. I did. That’s the class that I’ve been teaching for the past 40 years. I also wrote the 6th and 7th editions of ‘Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits’ after Harold’s death.”

Harriet Lembeck presenting her "Moonshine" session at SWE's 2015 Conference

Harriet Lembeck presenting her “Moonshine” session at SWE’s 2015 Conference

Harriet’s story continues, “One day I got a call from Bob Levine, who had a textbook publishing company, and who ran a school for engineering professionals. He was the Education Director of the American Wine Society. They had been called by the California Wine Institute, saying that the Wine Institute wanted to start a group consisting of wine educators. The AWS contacted Bob, who contacted me, and told me that there was going to be a new group, and that I should write bylaws. I didn’t even know what bylaws were, but I found a sample set in the back of my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and I wrote some makeshift bylaws (heavily edited over the years).”

Not long thereafter, Harriet and Bill Lembeck attended the first-ever meeting of the Society of Wine Educators, held at UC Davis, along with 160 other wine educators. Bob Levine was elected as the first President. Harriet describes that first meeting, “I recall looking around the auditorium at our first meeting, and thinking that these were ‘my people’. We all loved wine and we loved explaining it to others. We cared about teaching techniques. Education and Wine—all rolled up together. What could be better? Eventually we included fine spirits, which was a hard sell to some of our members in the beginning, but, fortunately, not anymore.”

At that first meeting, Harriet volunteered for and subsequently served on the inaugural Admissions, Certifications, and Awards Committees for the Society of Wine Educators. In the following years, she held a number of terms on the Board of Directors, presented at numerous conferences, and continues to be a frequent guest contributor to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom—the Society’s blog.

SWE President Barry Wiss presenting the Lembeck Award along with SWE Past Presidents Robin Kelly O'Connor, Sharron McCarthy, and Edward Korry

SWE President Barry Wiss presenting the Lembeck Award along with SWE Past Presidents Robin Kelly O’Connor, Sharron McCarthy, and Edward Korry

In addition to the Society of Wine Educators, Harriet remains active in the wine and spirits industry through the New York Wine and Food Society, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the American Wine Society (where she earned an Award of Merit). She is also a frequent judge at wine competitions and has served as the Wine & Spirits Director for the New School University, a visiting Wine Lecturer for Florida International University–Chaplin School of Hospitality, and as Chairman of the New York Wine Press, an organization of wine journalists.

Harriet sums up her thoughts on this award by saying, “I like to think that this new Lembeck Award, which honored Bill Lembeck and me firstly by its name—which traditionally goes to the first recipient—but secondly, with the recognition of our demonstrable love of the Society of Wine Educators, which we have always professed.  We think of it as noting our service to the Society, which we hope will inspire others to follow. It goes without saying that we appreciate SWE President Barry Wiss’ idea of a kind of ‘long-term service, love of Society’ award, which he had produced so beautifully. We are totally surprised and honored!”

Bill and Harriet Lembeck and SWE President Barry Wiss along with SWE Past Presidents

Bill and Harriet Lembeck and SWE President Barry Wiss along with SWE Past Presidents

Along with Harriet, Bill Lembeck is quite possibly the only person to have attended every one of SWE’s 41 conferences. Bill has a background in engineering and business (design, finance, and administration), and is a former instructor at New York University Medical Center, specializing in prosthetics and orthotics. His first experience in the world of wine and spirits found him contributing to Harriet’s edition of “Grossman’s Guide.” Through this project, Bill developed an expertise in drawing wine maps, which eventually led to the production of maps and diagrams for wine and spirits areas around the world—which he gifted to the Society of use in SWE Study Guides and Conferences—all at no charge.

Bill describes his involvement with SWE this way, “I have been a member of the Finance Committee from the very beginning of the Society. Eventually, I became the Society’s Treasurer and fulfilled that position for two separate terms. In the early years, the Society was almost always in financial difficulty. While in my second term as Treasurer, SWE’s certification program had been successfully developed and was up and running. Soon thereafter, we were finally in a position of financial well-being after carefully investing the earnings from our programs. After finishing my second term as Treasurer, I was designated a Director Emeritus and have continued to offer my advice, both financially and administratively.

Bill and Harriet Lembeck presenting on Rum at SWE's 2015 Conference

Bill and Harriet Lembeck presenting on Rum at SWE’s 2015 Conference

“One of my favorite accomplishments was the purchase of 8,000 wine glasses for conference use. The reason for the purchase was that it became exceedingly difficult to rent glasses locally, especially in that quantity for the annual conferences. This glass purchase has provided a substantial saving in all our tasting sessions.

“Over the forty years of our Society’s existence, it is the numerous small details, many of which Harriet and I have initiated and performed, that has helped the Society to grow and prosper. We like to think that this service is what inspired President Barry Wiss to create this award, and to make us the first recipients.” Well said, Bill!

Please join me in saying a hearty “Congratulations” to Bill and Harriet Lembeck, the first recipients of SWE’s new annual Lembeck Award. Congratulations, Harriet and Bill!

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

Meet the Board: Pamela Kindel Connors

Pam Kindel Connors

Pam Kindel Connors

A few weeks ago, at our annual conference in Portland, the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  Today we’d like to introduce you to Pamela Kindel Connors.

A new member of SWE’s Board of Directors, Pamela Kindel Connors has over 28 years of industry experience in wine and spirits distribution as well as cruise line, casino, and restaurant operations—to include positions in management, training & development, and human resources. For the past 18 years, she worked Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits as a Regional HR Business Partner Director specializing in learning and development, talent management, organizational development, and mentor coaching.

Pam has been a member of SWE since 2003. In recent years she has served the Society in many ways, including volunteering at several conferences and serving as the Conference co-chair in 2008 and arranging for five culinary-based presentations at the 2015 Conference in New Orleans.

In her own words, Pam tells us her plans for the upcoming year: “It is such an honor to be elected to the Board of Directors!  I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with SWE over the past 16 years and watching the organization’s growth into making a global footprint in wine & spirts educational excellence!  With the opportunity to develop a broad range of industry experience, I hope to add a more diverse approach in the marketing and development of wine & spirits education within the organization.  Thank you and I am looking forward to serving!”

Pam holds is a Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). In addition, she holds the French Wine Scholar, Bordeaux Wine Educator, Spanish Wine Educator, and WSET III credentials. Welcome to the Board, Pam!

Meet the Board: Dr. Margie Ferree Jones, CWE

Dr. Margie Ferree Jones

Dr. Margie Ferree Jones

A few weeks ago, at our annual conference in Portland, the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our board members who was recently elected, Dr. Margie Ferree Jones. Dr. Jones has served on the board before, and we would like to welcome here back, and thank her for her service to the Society!

Dr. Margie Ferree Jones is a Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona.  She joined the faculty at Cal Poly Pomona in 1990. In 2014, Dr. Jones received the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award –the first recipient of this new award.

Margie has a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University and a master’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University.   In addition to being an instructor for beverage-related coursework at the Collins College, Margie regularly teaches the capstone leadership course for seniors and has taught courses in marketing, special events, and food & beverage during her tenure at Cal Poly Pomona.  Margie was the curriculum chair for the college from 2001 to 2012.

In addition to being highly educated, Margie is certifiable (in wine)!  She is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), a Certified Sommelier (CS), and  a Certified Bordeaux Educator with L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux.  She has also completed the WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits as well as the Napa Valley Wine Educators Academy.  She is currently working on completing her Sake Adviser Certificate.

Margie previously served as a Board Member for the Society of Wine Educators from 2009 to 2015, and we are happy to have her back! Welcome (back) to the board, Dr. Jones!

Meet the Board: Connor Best, CSW

Connor Best, CSW

Connor Best, CSW

A few weeks ago, at our annual conference in Portland, the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Connor Best, CSW…and thank him for his service to the Society!

Connor Best, CSW, is a new addition to the SWE Board of Directors. A native of South Louisiana, Connor made the leap from Cajun Country to Napa Valley to work a harvest after completing graduate school.  Now, 120 months later, Connor is fully immersed in the Napa Valley wine industry, working for the Napa Valley Vintners as Education Manager. Before joining the NVV, he worked in production and sales and two prominent Napa Valley wineries and as member relations manager for the NVV.

As the Education Manager, Connor is responsible for implementing the appellation education efforts of Napa Valley Vintners. Connor has been a SWE member for the past three years and has been an active participant in several of SWE’s past conferences. In addition to developing sessions for the SWE conference, Connor works to educate members of the trade on why Napa Valley is one of the world’s premiere wine regions through programs both in and outside of Napa Valley.

Connor has a Master’s Degree in Political Communications as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Government, both from Louisiana State University.

Welcome, Connor!


The 2017 CSW is now available for pre-order!


The 2017 CSW Exam and Study Guide is now available for pre-order!

The latest edition of the CSW Study Guide and Workbook will be available for shipping in the early part of January of 2017 (it sounds like it is a way off, but that is just a month away)!

The CSW Exam 2017 (which includes a copy of the 2017 CSW Study Guide in the price) is now available for pre-order, and the books will be shipped as soon as they are published in January. The 2017 CSW Workbook is also available for pre-order.

The 2017 CSW Exam will be available at Pearson Vue Learning Centers on January 3rd, however, candidates that Candidates that pre-order will have through March 1, 2018 to take the exam.

If you are currently studying for the CSW exam using the 2015 Study Guide, have no fear! Your exam authorization code specifies that you be given the 2015 version of the exam, which will remain available until February of 2018 (for those that already have the 2015 authorization code).

The 2017 version of the CSW Study Guide includes the latest updates to the world of wine—new rules and regulations as well as new AVAs, AOCs, and DOCGs—as well as additional new material on the wines of Asia, Corsica, Bulgaria, and Slovenia—to name a few!

Note: The CSW Study Guide 2017 will be available as an ebook in early 2017. The specific date of publication will be announced as soon as it is confirmed.

For more information, see the Catalog and Store page on the SWE Website.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Meet the Board: Valerie Caruso, FWS, DWS, CWE

Valerie Caruso, FWS, CWE

Valerie Caruso, FWS, CWE

Last August, at our annual conference, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Valerie Caruso, FWS, DWS, CWE…and thank her for her service to the Society!

Valerie retired after 25 years in the Air Force and moved to Italy a few months later to study wine at an international hospitality school. It started as a personal travel and learning adventure for a wine lover, but turned into much more. She was only back in the states 90 days before returning to Italy to study advanced Italian, speak on a collaborative book project about Tuscan wines, and then proceeded to another international culinary academy in France.

In 2010 Valerie began doing private tastings for friends and military spouse groups, and the following year started a business doing in-home tastings and while working with direct-to-consumer sales for a Napa winery. It was in 2012 when she discovered the Society of Wine Educators and the CSW program, and also when she started teaching wine tasting classes in Colorado Springs. She credits her first CSW preview that year as the moment that learning bug would formally establish itself as the desire to not only further her own education, but to bring others along for the exciting wine education ride.

Val has since established her own wine education company, Vino With Val, LLC, where she provides customized tastings for private and corporate clients and even organizations and tour groups. In 2015, she launched the Wine Two Five podcast with fellow CWE Stephanie Davis. Together they built a strong wine media presence and brand as well as a worldwide community of engaged listeners who want to be entertained, educated, and empowered as consumers. Val’s time is now largely consumed nearly full-time as executive producer, content writer, and host for the weekly show which can be found on iTunes, IHeartRadio and many other destinations.

After attending the 2014 conference and the CWE preview, Val knew she’d found her wine education home. She has since contributed to SWE’s popular SWEbinar and Certification Summit program as a presenter. Many of the SWE’s own professionals have found their voices warmly welcomed on the Wine Two Five podcast by the listener base to help spread the word as well, and affectionately refers to the friends she’s made at SWE as her “tribe” and believes strongly in the mission and spirit of the organization.

In her time on the board, Val would like to continue to proudly carry (some would say shamelessly promote) the torch of SWE to those who seek quality wine education and community, especially online for those who don’t live in the most restaurant-and study-group-rich locations.  Just as she has for those who have reached out to her for mentoring—particularly veterans who find her online—she is  determined to be instrumental in expanding the study resources for wine learning and contribute to the excellence in the SWE’s educational endeavors.

Welcome, Valerie!


Meet the Board: Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE - a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors.

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE – a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors.

Last August, at our annual conference, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors.  While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well.  Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Marc DeMarchena…and thank him for his service to the Society!

Marc DeMarchena CWE, CSS, CHE is a newly-elected member of the SWE Board of Directors. Mark is currently an Associate Professor of Beverage and Dining Services with the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. During his 18 years as an instructor, Marc has taught a variety of classes, including Foundations of Wine and Spirits, Principles of Beverage Service, Dining Room Supervision, Contract Food Service Management, and Old World Wines.

Many of our members have met Marc throughout his 18 years of involvement with SWE, including our conference speakers who have found Marc to be a true life-saver in his frequent role as our Conference Audio-Visual Liaison.

Marc was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Bordeaux last summer as part of this third re-accreditation as a Bordeaux Wine Tutor. He describes this journey through Bordeaux, hosted by the L’ École du Vin de Bordeaux, as a “dash between all the subregions visiting and tasting the deliciousness along the way.” He goes on to say that “this captures what I love about wine education.  The connection to the culture—seeing, feeling and tasting how it transcends into our subject matter—is simply fabulous.”

When asked how he sees his role on SWE’s Board of Directors, Marc replied, “My 18-year relationship with the Society has given me so much opportunity to connect to the world of wine. I would like to share that community with future members and help them see the value of our organization’s ability to light their beverage passion. It is pretty amazing to have witnessed the past decade of growth and educational programing that the Society offers. I believe my years managing in the food and beverage business and my time teaching at the university level can bring a combination of skills that will be useful to the Society as we face new opportunities and challenges.”

Welcome, Marc!


Hot off the Press: The 2016 CSS Workbook has Arrived!


Here’s a riddle: What has 105 pages, 1,070 activities, and over 150 “practice” multiple choice quiz questions, all dealing with spirits,  vermouth, cocktails, and bar culture?

What newly-published resource will help you engage with, retain, and understand the material in the CSS Study Guide and help you to make sense of all sorts of “facts and figures” about adult beverages?

Here’s another hint…

What has been professionally designed to help you structure your studies, and ensure that you receive the best training possible in order to help you pass the CSS Exam?

Answer:  Our CSS Workbook—in print for the first time ever, and available NOW on the SWE Website!  This 105-page workbook has a variety of exercises, including multiple choice questions, word matching, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and true/false questions. It also contains map exercises and blank maps of the tequila-, Scotch whisky-, armagnac-, and cognac-producing regions.

All of these resources have been designed to help you to learn and comprehend the rather large amount of material to be found in the CSS Study Guide.  While it may sound like a lot of work, we’ve also made it enjoyable—after all, what’s more fun than learning about spirits and cocktails?

The CSS 2016 Workbook is now available for purchase on the SWE website. Click here to access the SWE Website Catalog and Store.


Added note: Our next CSS Online Prep Class is scheduled to begin the week of July 12th. This will be the first class to utilize the 2016 CSS Study Guide and workbook, and we still have a few places available. Click here for more information on the CSS Online Prep Class.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the CSS Workbook, please contact our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here to return to the SWE Website.


SWE Conference Registration is Open!


Wouldn’t it be great to be able to hear Bill Deutsch, founder of Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, talk about his insights into the wine business? How would you like to spend a Thursday afternoon comparing and contrasting the wines of Napa Valley and Bordeaux along with Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW? How does a debate on minerality in wine – led by Master of Wine Roger Bohmrich sound? Would you like to sit in on a session on “Advanced Tasting Strategies” led by Tim Gaiser, MS?

If this sounds intriguing, you can experience all of this and more at SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, to be held August 11–13 in Washington DC. Click on this link for more information!