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CWP Level 1

Certified Wine Professional™ (CWP)

In today's competitive market, the more diverse your skills, the more successful you and your operation will be. So why not supercharge your career by mastering wine and getting a Certified Wine Professional credential to prove it? Earning level I wine certification at the CIA is your surest route to career success.

Successful candidates will receive a "Certified Wine Professional—Foundation Level I Certificate of Accomplishment" from The Culinary Institute of America.

About the exam >


Certified Wine Professional—Foundation Level I Competencies
Students enrolling in the exam should have competencies in the following areas:

Wine Knowledge

  • World's major grape varieties, including where they grow
  • World's major varietals, including major characteristics of those varietals
  • Most widely planted premium grape varietals in California and in the United States
  • Process of fermentation
  • Meaning of alcohol by volume and average range of alcohol by volume for standard table wines
  • Meaning of fortify, residual sugar, filtration, and fining
  • Role of barrels in winemaking (what effect oak has on a wine; the difference between barrel fermentation and stainless steel fermentation)
  • Main compounds that act as preservatives in wine, allowing it to age
  • Key physical requirements for growing vines
  • Concept of terroir, clones, scion, and rootstock
  • Factors that must be considered in planting a new vineyard
  • Why and how harvest decisions are critical to the final style and flavor of the wines
  • World production trends, including the top wine-producing countries in the world
  • Europe's major wine regions, the wines produced in them, and the grape varieties from which those wines are made
  • Major New World wine regions, the wines produced in them, and the grape varieties from which those wines are made

Wine Sensory Ability

  • A basic ability to describe and evaluate wine professionally, including assessing a wine's color, aroma, flavor, body, finish, and overall quality
  • Describe the range of colors that exist in white and red wines
  • Tell apart, with a good degree of accuracy, the major varietals/types of wine, in a blind tasting
  • Assess, in a blind tasting, whether a wine is from the Old World or the New World and give reasons to support your decision
  • Differentiate, in blind tastings, between a barrel-fermented wine from one that is fermented in a tank and between young and older wines
  • Identify TCA

Business and Practical Expertise

  • Ability to read and decipher wine labels from all the major wine-producing countries
  • Basic understanding of correct wine service
  • Importance of good wine glasses, including the features of a good wine glass
  • General markup for wine in a restaurant and in a retail store

Wine and Food Comprehension and Pairing Skills

  • General principles behind successful and unsuccessful wine and food matches
  • Concepts of complementary pairings and contrasting pairings
  • Names of and principles behind several classic wine and food matches
  • Ability to pair an appropriate single bottle of wine when different entrées are ordered from a restaurant menu

Registering for the Exam

To register for the Certified Wine Professional—Foundation Level I exam, call the CIA's Professional Wine Studies Office at 707-967-2568. We suggest registering as early as possible to secure your placement; the $400 exam fee is due at the time of registration. All CWP exams are conducted at the CIA's Napa Valley campus in St. Helena, CA.
Certified Wine Professional Level 1

Exam Dates:

  • TBA
Certified Wine Professional Level 1
"Having the CIA name behind the Wine Immersion program and the Certified Wine Professional credential earns an immense amount of respect in the industry."

Melanie Wiltz, CWP,
Hospitality Professional,
Austin, TX
The Exam

The Certified Wine Professional—Foundation Level I exam tests and recognizes wine competency at a foundation level; candidates should have a basic working knowledge of:

  • Major grape varieties
  • Important wine regions around the world
  • Wine tasting, including how to professionally analyze and describe a wine
  • Correct wine service
  • How wine is made
  • Practical aspects of the wine business
  • General knowledge of the principles behind pairing wine and food

Structure of the Exam
The 2 1/2 hour wine certification exam consists of a written section and a practical (tasting) section. The written section is comprised of multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions. The tasting segment consists of one flight of three blind wines that the student must analyze. Students must pass each section of the exam with a 75% or higher score to earn a complete passing grade.