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Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of working in the wine industry. Or maybe you’re a dedicated oenophile thirsty for new knowledge. You may just looking to hold your own in dinner-party discussions about the merits of this zinfandel versus that sauvignon blanc.
Whatever your interest, Boston University Metropolitan College’s four-course Certificate in Wine Studies Program provides an expert overview of the venerable beverage.
“It’s a surprisingly vast topic,” says senior lecturer and program founder Bill Nesto, a former Ritz-Carlton sommelier, or wine steward, and co-author of two books and many articles on wine.
The multidisciplinary curriculum covers everything from grape-growing and wine-making to working in a variety of industry roles, including vineyard owner, wine agent, marketer, sommelier, wine writer, and more.
The program moves from simple to sophisticated, says Nesto, who is among only 370 certified Masters of Wine worldwide. The first level, or course, is targeted to students with no previous wine knowledge: “The word ‘enjoyment’ is an important part of that class,” he says. They’ll learn about basics such as grape varieties, wine regions, and beverage-food pairings. As they move through the next three levels, tackling more complex subjects, students will also develop and refine their wine-tasting abilities.
That progression is especially useful for people considering moving to the wine business from other industries, Nesto says: “I really recommend that people get their feet wet before they switch careers. Our program is a great way to do that.”
Many graduates have landed enviable jobs. Some are sommeliers at leading restaurants, others own or work in wine shops, while many become wine educators, columnists, or podcasters. In 2016, alumna Jacquelyn Groeper and a partner opened Artis Winery in Pembroke; Groeper also teaches a winemaking class with Nesto at BU.
But Nesto says the program also benefits those who simply want to better understand what they’re drinking: “Some have just walked out knowing that every glass of wine they have from then on will matter more.”