Exploring Italian Wine - Online Course

Ideal as a résumé-enhancing academic curriculum for the wine trade or a no-pressure continuation of the DIW course for wine enthusiasts. Delve deeper into the complex world of Italian wine.



Join the exploration! Italian wine awaits!

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).

Topics covered:

  • Italian history and cultural context with discussions of language, geography and cuisine
  • Grape varieties, denominations and production methods
  • Northern Italian Reds, Central Italian Reds, Southern Italian Reds
  • White Wines of the Peninsula and Islands, White Wines of Northern Italy
  • Sparkling Wines, Dessert Wines and Spirits
  • Luxury Wines

Materials and resources included:

  • 8-unit online course with text, beautiful photos, graphics, labels and maps
  • Review exercises and interactive quizzes
  • Audio pronunciation of Italian terms
  • Wine tasting recommendations
  • Interaction with other students and IWC’s education liaison through our private online forum


In addition to the included Certificate of Completion, those who wish to pursue the Italian Wine Professional (IWP) credential can do so by taking the IWP exam, available separately for an additional fee.

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 course, you will be emailed a Certificate of Completion suitable for framing.

Course cost:  $395

To inquire about volume discounts and corporate rates for Exploring Italian Wine, contact

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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I now have a solid foundation of Italian wine regions and laws. . . . I felt when studying WSET Unit 3 (light wines) that I wasn't able to put nearly as much work into Italy as I did other regions, in large part because it was so big and expansive and, frankly, confusing. . . . I definitely feel like I have a good foundation now, where the IWP [Exploring Italian Wine] was able to fill in the missing gaps.
~ Jess Helfand, dipWSET, IWP | WSET Certified Educator and Instructor, Napa Valley Wine Academy

....The breadth of information contained in the online materials was extraordinary, comprehensive, and useful...
~ Bill Teefy, IWP | Sales Associate & Wine Buyer, Doc’s Wine Shop, Hayward, CA

I appreciate the way [Exploring Italian Wine] distills the information down to its most important features, which is always something I have struggled with when studying Italy. I've gone back and revisited some of the exercises just to cement those details in a little more which I have found to be extremely helpful.
~ Emily Edeen, IWP | Sommelier, Canlis Restaurant, Seattle, WA

Thank you. Loved the course! Will recommend to my friends. Cheers!
~ Clay Wheeler CS, WSET III, CSW, IWP | Beverage Director, Sommelier, The Argyle Club, San Antonio, TX

. . . As a wine consumer, I found the information extremely valuable and it adds to my enjoyment of Italian wine, cuisine, and travel.
~ Michael Markarian, IWP | Sommelier and Beverage Director at Chez Billy Sud · Le Bar à Vin and Bartender and Sommelier at Elizabeth's Gone Raw, Washington, DC

The most effective course for aspiring Italian wines connoisseurs. As a sommelier, educator, and restaurateur, it refreshed and added additional in-depth notions about the ever-changing world of wines.
~ Luciano Nesi, IWP | Chef, sommelier and restaurant owner, L’Opera Restaurant Group, Singapore and Philippines

…and I have to tell you, the style of your writing, the way you guide your students through the maze of Italian wine logic, your always educational, but comforting and colloquial tone is, honestly, brilliant. I look at your cross references, your explanations of the, yes, unexplainable (thanks, beloved Italian friends) and you somehow pulled this off…complimenti!  … it’s been a pleasure.
~ Thomas Koehorst, IWP | Regional/National Accounts Executive, SGWS, San Francisco, CA

The study with IWC has been a very enjoyable experience, I've already share it with my family and friends. I'll frame it and put it in my office desk. It's another step forward of my journey of Italian wine exploring. 
~Lukas Wu, IWP | Grand Oaks Asset Management, Shanghai, China

In all my studies, I’ve never had Italy broken down into such an organized, understandable way.
~ Tiy Bowton, DWS, CWAS, FWS, IWP | Wine Specialist, The Wine Country, Long Beach, CA

I have always felt that drinking wine without context is like visiting a country without having any idea of where you have landed. The Italian Wine Professional [Exploring Italian Wine] course provides an excellent and complete road map with which to navigate the world of Italian wines.
~ Leonardo LoCascio | Founder, Winebow Inc.

I have already recommended the IWP course to several people with whom I have taken the CSW, WSET, and Sommelier courses, because those courses generally cover Italian wines at only an introductory level, focusing on only the most familiar and most popular Italian wines . . . This course should be a prerequisite for wine professionals who make up restaurant wine lists or make recommendations to customers in a wine shop.
~ Rick Cusker, IWP | Wine Educator and Certified Wine Judge, Rochester, NY

The course is very well structured and for us, the perfect level of details. Thank you.
~ Ines Castillo, IWP | Société des Alcools du Québec, Québec, Canada

…the most joyful [course] by far, has been the [Exploring Italian Wine] course, a savvy online edition–rich in content, professional in delivery and supported by compact, relevant and accurately refined study modules supplemented by an exacting database of worth. Italy is, by far, one of the most complex wine areas in the world to study…the course offered by Italian Wine Central, however, features a practical proficiently designed template that cleverly marries pertinent detailed academic aspects in a neat and sensible format without overwhelming the student. The remote exam is facilitated in an extremely professional and seriously audited manner by competent proctors. I would certainly recommend this learning portal to students around the World.
~ Yegas Naidoo, IWP | International Wine Judge, Port Shepstone, South Africa

Thank you... it was great to take the course! It is well structured and up to date... 
~ Marie-Ève Meunier, IWP | Société des Alcools du Québec, Québec, Canada

The information and resources online are extremely helpful and detailed for this course. I like the fact that the course focuses on some of [Italy’s] most planted, major grape varieties and covers the regions by north–central–south (reds) and coastal as well as higher elevation (whites). This gives a full perspective of such a varied country. One of my favorite parts was the restaurant list, as this is something everyone can relate to. Everyone interested in Italian wines—but certainly everyone working with Italian wines—should deepen their knowledge base with this course.
~ Barbara Hartman, IWP | Tour Director, Tauck World Discovery, Las Vegas, NV

I think the course is exceptional. 
~ Robert J. Meloni CSW, IWP | Vice President, On Premise Wine, SGWS of Illinois

Thank you. It was a rewarding course and really helped me to home in on my DOC/DOCG knowledge.
~ Edward Rapp | Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Washington, DC

I am proud to have achieved this and proud to be part of your Italian wine community.
~ Peter Jones, IWP | Towcester, Northants, United Kingdom

The knowledge I've gained through this course has increased my confidence when speaking with more advanced wine professionals and with clients. I work with many Italian wine clients, and my understanding of their products and frustrations is now deeper, therefore helping me to better execute my responsibilities.
~ Account Executive | Colangelo & Partners Communications Agency, New York, NY

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