Education Wine Courses


5 and 6 June 2017


The exams are over – now I wait for the results. For those who don’t know, the Cape Wine Academy is the official, leading organisation in South Africa to learn about wine. It was formed in 1979 and, since then, over 120,000 people have enrolled for courses. These cover a range of topics, ranging from: wines of South Africa, wines from the World; hospitality and front of house; wine and food; brandy and cocktails; and corporate events. The courses are fun and fascinating. They cater for every level: beginner, enthusiast, expert, sommelier, and professional in the wine industry.

The Certificate Wine Course is the second course in a hierarchy that starts with the South African Wine Course (6 hours). It leads on to the Diploma Wine Course (2-4 years) and ultimately to Cape Wine Master. The Certificate Course offers an in-depth journey into South African wine. Lectures are held either over 3 days or 7 evenings and the standard is extremely high. The first exam that I took, yesterday, was the 2½ hour Theory paper. I had to write short answers and complete multiple-choice type answers from 8 Sections that mirror the lecture schedule: Viticulture, Grape Varieties, South African Wine-Producing Areas, Wine-making, Brandy, Fortified and Sweet Wines, Sparkling Wines, and General Knowledge.

Today, I completed the second exam. This consisted of blind-tasting of 3 white and 3 red wines. They were Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Riesling or Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Time was tight with 30 marks on offer and with just 7 minutes per glass. I had to assess and evaluate more than 20 characteristics from the appearance, nose and palate of the wine. The final task was to make conclusions about the wine style, grape variety, climate, vineyard origin or location, vintage, wine quality, wine development, ageing potential, faults and wine producer/brand. Phew!

The exams – held in the King David Mowbray Gold Club in Pinelands, Cape Town – were like going back to school. Remember? The little tables spaced apart in a large open room. Instructions and start times and trying to remember information that seemed so clear just 30 minutes previously? I am quietly confident that I have done enough to pass. As ever, I realised afterwards where I made errors but also where my answers were correct. I’ll update you on how I do.

Meanwhile, please feel free to give me a call or contact me if you wish to chat about any of the Cape Wine Academy training I have done (South African Wine Course and Wine & Food Workshop too). I’ll be only too happy to give you a student-insider view.

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