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International Sommelier Guild

The HTE department sponsors the International Sommelier Guild at the Aurania Campus. Classes are conducted by the ISG, with the ISG holding responsibility for course administration and instruction. As host for the courses, the department coordinates the site and assists in answering questions regarding the program. The site coordinator is Michael Wray. He can be contacted at (303) 556-3393, or via e-mail at

The courses are commonly taught on a Sunday, creating a schedule that allows most hospitality professionals to attend. The Wine Fundamentals Certificate, (WFCL) courses are normally held from 10am-5pm each Sunday. There are two levels of this course, WFCL-1 and WFCL-2. Both certificates are taught as one course, with the same $1700 fee (currently). The fee includes two of the suggested textbooks, (eBook) some class materials, and tastings. Each day the course activities include discussion, activities, and tastings of wine varietals and regions. The WFCL-1 course lasts for the first four weeks of the 12 week program and discusses mostly varietals of wine. The WFCL-2 course continues with varietal knowledge and expands to more in depth study of wine service, regions, spirits, and beer. Successful completion requires self and guided study in and out of class and diligence in carrying out class activities and homework. Exams include written and blind tasting examinations.

The certificate classes are normally scheduled for two times per year, with Spring and Fall (February and October start dates) as listed on the website, Course fees are subject to change. The classes are scheduled around all US and Canadian major holidays as some instructors and students travel in from Canada.  Current courses are:

Course                                    Start Date                   Application Deadline

WFCL-1 and WFCL-2               10/5/2014                   9/1/2014

Sommelier Diploma                  10/5/2014                   7/10/2014

After successful completion of the WFCL-2 certificate, students may apply to the Diploma program, which is normally taught 11am - 7pm over the 22 weeks of the course. The $4250 course fee includes one of the recommended texts/eBook, some materials, tastings, and exam fees. The class is designed as a guided study course requiring extensive in and out of class assignments and individual and group work. Most students find regular study groups helpful to success on the exam. The final exam includes written, oral defense, blind tasting, and service examinations.

Activities each week include detailed discussions, activities, and tastings of wine varietals, styles, and regions. A great focus is on wine service, and detection of wine quality down to the producer level in various wine regions of the world. Successful students often demonstrate great depth and breadth of knowledge of wine, spirits, beer, and food service.


Courses offered at MSU Denver:

Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 1, WFCL-1

Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 1 is an introductory course designed to help wine enthusiasts feel comfortable and confident in the sometimes confusing world of wine. The course focuses on major international grape varieties as well as on some of the primary themes related to wine in the context of the hospitality industry. The course involves extensive tasting of representative varietal wines from around the world.

In Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 1, students develop an understanding of the unique characteristics of the major grapes used for making wine. Students will also learn about how grapes are grown, how red, white, sparkling and fortified wines are made, and how different approaches to growing grapes and making wine affect taste. In addition, students will be introduced to basic wine terminology, service and storage techniques, how to read labels, and the fundamentals of pairing food and wine.

Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 1 meets once each week for a total class time of 24 hours. The class provides an essential foundation for hospitality professionals, intent on pursuing Sommelier certification, and offers non-professionals a pleasurable, non-threatening introduction to wine. 

Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 2, WFCL-2

Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level 2 allows students to build on the knowledge gained in WFCL-1 through an introduction to the regional study of wine. The course involves extensive tasting of representative regional wines, spirits and beer from the world’s major production areas.

In WFCL-2, students begin to develop an understanding of the ways in which local landscapes and cultures affect wine flavors. By studying variables such as climate, soil, grape variety, topography, regional law and local approaches to grape growing and wine making, students will understand some of the reasons for the extraordinary diversity of the world of wine. Students will also continue to develop knowledge in major themes of the hospitality industry, including regional food and wine pairing theories, service techniques and wine management practices.

WFCL-2 meets once each week for a total of 48 hours. Graduates of this course receive the Wine Fundamentals Certificate, which is a pre-requisite to the Sommelier Diploma.

Sommelier Diploma Program, SDP

The Sommelier Diploma Program, (SDP) offers students the opportunity to receive certification as a Sommelier through direct instruction by some of the world's top Sommeliers. The course involves extensive tasting of a wide variety of alcoholic beverages from around the world. By the end of the program, students will be skilled tasters of alcoholic beverages and should be able to identify specific products in blind tasting.

Delivered by industry experts, the SDP is designed to provide students with the skills they will need to be successful Sommeliers in the hospitality industry. The curriculum is both broad and challenging. In addition to continued regional study of wine, beer, spirits and cuisine, students will receive instruction in the administration and managerial elements of the profession including wine service, cellaring wines, investment strategies, menu design, inventory procedures, and staff training.

To ensure that the learning experience is exceptional, the International Sommelier Guild ensures that all SDP instructors attend a teacher preparation conference designed to keep them up to date on the latest information, research and development, new theories of food and wine pairing, teaching strategies, and current trends in the market place.

The SDP is an intensive 22-session course which meets once each week for eight hours. Graduates of this program are entitled to the title of Certified Sommelier and ability to wear the SDP lapel pin. The ISG's Sommelier Diploma has been designed to provide the benchmark for wine knowledge within the hospitality industry. 


To register for classes, and for application and tuition deadlines, click here.

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