With the arrival yesterday of a certain package from Amazon my study material is complete. For those who don't know I am working toward earning my "Certified Specialist of Wine" from the Society of Wine Educators. There aren't that many globally and getting this certification will push me from about the top 15% to around the top 10% globally in terms of demonstrated knowledge (my current certification, "AW" from the Parker-Zraly Institute got me to my current designation). Why? Because I want to. Really, that's it. Oh, there may be a career change at some point, especially if I go on to earn a CWE (which would place me in the top 5% of wine experts) but with the CSW it is strictly something I want to do. Most people designate a good year or two of intensive study after a few years of being in the trade to get this level of certification but I've decided to be a bit more ambitious and have given myself 3 months (end of September) to get through the examination process.
For study material I have assembled the following:
Society of Wine Educators CSW Study Guide: The canon for the exam, rather expensive as far as books go but it provides the foundational material for the exam.
Essential Winetasting: I have to say, from what I have seen thus far if there is one book I can recommend to people wanting to get a solid introduction to the basics this would be the book. If you know the material in here you can ace the WSET Level 1 and probably even Level 2 tests. Plus it's pretty, glossy color pictures showing you what you need to see in vivid color.
The Art And Science Of Wine: Probably the book you need to understand the wine making process. Since a good portion of the SWE exams cover the science of wine this is a must (as well as a good reference to have if I ever get the nutty idea of going for a MW which is quite literally like getting yet another PhD).
The Sommelier Prep Course: Covers much the same material as the official SWE guide but includes chapters on beer and spirits, the things a truly good sommelier needs to know to provide full adult beverage service in a high-end establishment.
And that's it... four books, three months. Let the fun begin.