Level 1: Discovering Italian Wine™

Discovering Italian Wine™ is an introductory-level certificate program for those with little experience with Italian wines. It is designed to take three weeks of study online, followed by an online exam. Those who successfully pass the exam receive a certificate of achievement. The course was developed by Italian Wine Central and is administered by the Napa Valley Wine Academy. It is open to members of the trade and interested consumers.

To register for Discovering Italian Wine, click here.


Below are some frequently asked questions about the Level 1 course.


Who should take the Level 1 course?

Discovering Italian Wine is the ideal way to introduce Italian wine to those who are just getting started on their wine journey or who are expanding out of their comfort zone (California, France, etc.) into the sometimes daunting wines of Italy. It is specifically designed for people in wine service or sales (on- or off-premise) to jump-start their careers, but it’s also a great way for consumers and aficionados to get a quick initiation in Italian wine knowledge.

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What are the prerequisites?

No prior knowledge of Italian wines is required. (That’s why it’s called “Discovering”!) However, students should be familiar with common wine terms and concepts from previous experience or a general wine course.

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What’s covered in the course?

Discovering Italian Wine is a fun, unpressured course that provides an introduction to the most prominent Italian wines and grape varieties. There are seven lessons, each presenting a manageable amount of relevant information about Italian wines that are important in export markets. The lessons are:

  • Setting the Stage
  • 11 Key Italian Red Grape Varieties
  • 11 Key Italian White Grape Varieties
  • 11 Wines Named After Grape Varieties
  • 11 Red Wines Named After Places
  • 11 White, Pink, Sparkling, and Dessert Wines Named After Places
  • 11 Places That Make Multiple Styles of Wine

Each lesson includes images, maps, pronunciation practice, and interactive exercises to help students get acquainted with Italian wines.

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When is the course taught and how long does it take?

Discovering Italian Wine is entirely online, so it is available on your own schedule. You can start at any time. The entire course will take most students approximately 8 hours to complete, depending on how much time they spend reviewing and completing the exercises. We recommend taking it slowly and concentrating on each lesson individually, so you will have three weeks to complete the course from the time you start.

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Is there a book with the course?

No, the course is entirely online, so students should take notes during the course if they want hard-copy study materials. However, students may want to purchase the Level 2 book, Into Italian Wine, as a reference guide.

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Is there any wine tasting involved?

Tasting Italian wines during the course is a great way to get the full measure of the course material, but it is not required. There is no tasting component to the final exam. However, through a special arrangement between our partner the Napa Valley Wine Academy and Wine.com, students in the U.S. can purchase sets of wines specifically chosen to accompany the course, with a 10% discount and free shipping. (Naturally, students must be of legal drinking age and must comply with local and federal laws.) Those employed in the wine trade may prefer to taste wines from their own company’s portfolio, as appropriate.

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What is the final exam like and what do students receive if they pass?

At the end of Discovering Italian Wine, there is an optional final exam. The exam is taken online by appointment with a proctoring service, any day, any time. There is no additional cost for this exam. The test is 30 questions long, with a variety of question types. A practice exam is available after the last lesson to help prepare for the actual exam. Students who pass the exam will be able to print a certificate of completion (or can have one printed and sent to them for a small fee). Most importantly, after completing Discovering Italian Wine, you will be more comfortable with and knowledgeable about Italian wine, and those who work at restaurants or in wine sales will likely see immediate results in their ability to sell more and better Italian wine.

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How does this course fit in with other wine courses?

For anyone pursuing an extended program of wine studies, Discovering Italian Wine is a great way to break the ice in the difficult area of Italian wine. Situations vary depending on each individual’s background and goals, but we would generally recommend that those following the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) program take Discovering Italian Wine between the introductory and certified levels, those working through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program take it between levels II and III, and those in the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) program take it before attempting the CSW. Of course, for anyone specializing in Italian wine, this course is a natural lead-in to the Italian Wine Professional (IWP) certification.

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How much does the Level 1 course cost?

The online course and exam cost $195, with corporate rates available for large or small businesses.

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To register for Discovering Italian Wine, click here.