Record numbers sign up for wine and spirits courses, says WSET

Learning about wine and spirits has never been so popular, according to new global student numbers from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

A record 108,557 people took a qualification with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) or one of its approved partners around the world in the 2018/19 academic year.

That is a 15% increase from the previous year, said the WSET, which is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2019.

Wine, spirits and sake courses all showed strong growth, said the group, which is preparing for its first global ‘wine education week’ between 9 and 15 September with 500 events planned across 47 countries.

‘In 1969, the year we were established, we had less than 2,000 candidates in the UK,’ said Ian Harris, WSET chief executive. ‘50 years on, we have over 100,000 candidates across 75 countries.’

Key figures

Around half of candidates who took a WSET course in the past year did so in the UK, mainland China or the US.

The US saw student numbers rise by 26% to 17,416, while mainland China reported a rise of 20% to 18,206 and the UK was up by 5% to 20,448.

India entered the WSET’s top 20 for the first time, after seeing student numbers rise by 50%.

More than 109 newly approved programme providers began offering WSET courses during the year, making 880 course providers globally.

Top 10 markets for WSET candidates

  1. UK (+5% in 2018/19)
  2. Mainland China (+20%)
  3. USA (+26%)
  4. Canada (+13%)
  5. France (+35%)
  6. Hong Kong, SAR China (+5%)
  7. Australia (+7%)
  8. Taiwan (+16%)
  9. Japan (+33%)
  10. Netherlands (+18%)

New plans

There are several changes to the WSET course structure for the new academic year, including a new Level 3 award in spirits and Level 4 Diploma in wines, plus a revised Level 2 award in wines.

‘The growing demand for WSET’s wine, spirits and sake qualifications worldwide demonstrates the importance of setting global standards in wine, spirits and sake education,’ said Harris.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, WSET will be holding its first global Wine Education Week, from 9th – 15th September.

‘Over the course of the week, over 500 events are taking place in 47 countries – giving consumers around the world the opportunity to learn more about wine,’ said Harris.

The week will kick off on Monday 9th September with food and wine pairing launch events across the world. Starting with Auckland, New Zealand and ending with California, USA, WSET is aiming for a continuous 24-hour global food and wine tasting session, across the world in 24 countries.