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Exploring Italian Wine™ FAQ

Exploring Italian Wine™ is an advanced-intermediate course developed by the education team at Italian Wine Central for those who want to understand the rich spectrum of Italian wines. It includes a tightly curated curriculum that focuses on mastering the large array of Italian wines and grape varieties that are seen on export markets, leaving the obscure and rare wines for later study as needed. The program covers all the classic, commercially significant, and up-and-coming Italian wines with a presence outside Italy today.

Exploring Italian Wine is open to anyone interested in the wide array of wines Italy has to offer. It builds on the foundation of the Discovering Italian Wine™ course, introducing additional levels of detail and a broader scope that includes wine areas all around Italy. The Discovering course is not a prerequisite, although those who are relatively unfamiliar with Italian wines might want to consider starting with the introductory course.

In addition to the core content of the course, the Exploring Italian Wine program includes supplementary information about the Italian language, culture, and cuisine, as well as quizzes and exercises to help with retention. We recommend spreading the course over approximately 8 weeks in order fully absorb the information. Those who master the course content are well positioned to take the exam (additional cost) to become certified as an Italian Wine Professional™ (IWP).

Approximate hours to complete: 32–48

Access to the course:

  • Access to the course is immediate upon receipt of payment.
  • You will have access to the course for 6 months after registration.
  • Upon successful completion of the exam, you will be emailed a Certificate of Completion suitable for framing.

Course cost: $395

Below are some frequently asked questions about the Exploring Italian Wine course.

Who should take the Exploring Italian Wine course?

The Exploring Italian Wine course is recommended for anyone who wants to strengthen his or her knowledge base on the subject of Italian wine. It is designed to bring Italian wines into focus and provide the confidence necessary to discuss, sell, buy, and enjoy Italian wine. Ideal candidates include:

  • Those who have a love of or interest in wine but have not dealt much with Italian wine
  • Those who are familiar with some of the more famous categories of Italian wine but want to broaden their scope to less familiar territory
  • Those who work in retail, restaurant, import, and distribution roles selling, evaluating, or competing against Italian wines
  • Wine writers, educators, and avid connoisseurs who wish to increase their knowledge of Italian wine
  • Anyone who has a passion for Italian wine but wants help in understanding Italian wine labels, expanding their horizons in choosing wines on a wine list, or appreciating the differences between the myriad Italian wine styles

The Exploring Italian Wine course is also recommended for anyone working on advanced wine studies—general or Italian focused—whether for their career or for personal achievement. A thorough understanding of the course content will put the student in an excellent position to earn the Italian Wine Professional™ certification.

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What are the prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for taking the Exploring Italian Wine course, but students should be familiar with common wine terms and basic principles of viticulture and winemaking from previous experience or a general wine course. Taking Italian Wine Central’s foundational course Discovering Italian Wine™ is not required, but is recommended for those diving into Italy’s broad range of wines for the first time. Exploring Italian Wine presents a great deal of information in its eight lessons, and the better a student’s foundation is, the more effectively new information will be absorbed.

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What’s covered in the course?

Exploring Italian Wine introduces students to the wines and grape varieties that make up the vast majority of Italian exports, along with some that are still relatively unknown but show great promise. The course is designed to be practical and market relevant, so Italian Wine Central has worked with sommeliers and other Italian wine experts to select the Italian wines and grape varieties that are most likely to be seen in wine shops and on wine liststo ensure students’ time is well spent.

The Exploring Italian Wine course consists of eight lessons organized by wine style—a format that mirrors the way people usually think when selecting wines to buy or drink. The eight lessons cover the following themes:

  1. Introduction to Italy and Italian Wines
  2. Northern Italian Reds
  3. Central Italian Reds
  4. Southern Italian Reds
  5. White Wines of the Peninsula and Islands
  6. White Wines of Northern Italy
  7. Sparkling Wines, Dessert Wines, & Spirits
  8. Luxury Wines

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

  • Grape variety profiles
  • Italy’s major wine styles
  • Geography through the use of original color maps
  • Italian cuisine and its relationship with Italian wines
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When is the course taught and how long does it take?

The Exploring Italian Wine course is entirely online and is self-study in nature, so it can be done on your own schedule. The amount of information presented in each lesson has been selected to be manageable for most students progressing through the course at a pace of one lesson per week. This pace provides the best retention of knowledge. At one lesson per week, the course takes 8 weeks to complete, after which students will still have about 4 months of course access to review specific material or even retake the entire course.

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Is there a book with the course?

Exploring Italian Wine is designed as to be entirely online and does not include a hard-copy book accompaniment. For those who want a book for taking notes or referencing after the online access is over, however, the associated textbook Into Italian Wine is available. The 200-page soft-cover book is available from Amazon in most countries. U.S.-based students have the option to add the book to the course tuition at a reduced price.

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Is there any wine tasting involved?

Tasting Italian wines during the course is strongly encouraged, but not required. As an online course, students will normally need to source the wines themselves, either from work if employed in the wine trade or from a good wine retailer. A list of suggested wine categories to acquire is included in the course materials. Students can write up their tasting notes and share them with others in their cohort through a Facebook group dedicated to the course, allowing others to learn about wines that they have not had the opportunity to taste.

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What is required to pass the course, and what do students receive if they do?

Exploring Italian Wine has an optional 40-question final examination at the end. Students who pass the exam receive by email a printable certificate of completion for the course.

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If I don’t pass, can I retake the exam?

No, the final exam is a one-shot test, but the questions are all based on or identical to questions asked in quizzes spread throughout the course.

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How does this course fit in with other wine courses?

Exploring Italian Wine is designed to help wine lovers and members of the wine trade become confident and capable in dealing with Italian wine, but it can also provide targeted instruction in what many describe as the most difficult area of wine study for anyone pursuing advanced general wine credentials. In terms of the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) program, Exploring Italian Wine is probably best taken between the certified and advanced sommelier levels. It would fit well before or after Level III for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) program and before or after the CSW for the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) program.

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How much does the Exploring Italian Wine course cost?

The Exploring Italian Wine online course is regularly priced at $395, with the option to add a textbook for $45 (U.S.-based students only; others may purchase the book through Amazon). Exploring Italian Wine can be combined with the introductory Discovering Italian Wine course for a discounted price of $445 or combined with one sitting of the Italian Wine Professional certification exam for a discounted price of $595. Volume discounts and corporate rates for large or small businesses are also available.

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Is there a discount for multiple enrollments?

Yes, IWC offers multiple-enrollment discounts to encourage businesses to put teams of employees through the program or for groups of friends to go through together. This opens up great options for group study, combined tastings, and collective encouragement and competition. Discounts begin at 10% for 3–5 students enrolling at the same time. Please contact us at to discuss these discount opportunities and receive enrollment instructions.

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