Text Size:-+
11.13.2009

Wine Education as Big Business

In an already crowded field of certifications for wine knowledge, add one more: the Parker & Zraly Wine Certification courtesy of Robert Parker and Kevin Zraly. While no doubt well intentioned and likely to be filled with good questions (Kevin Zraly is a renowned wine educator) it's hard not to see this as more than yet another revenue stream in the Robert Parker empire.

Did the world need another wine certification? I'd argue no, but who knows. Perhaps people will flock to this one, especially considering the barrier to entry is so low. The first set of eight exams costs $30 apiece, or $195 if purchased together. The second level single exam is $150, and we don't know what the third level exam will cost.

The first two levels of these exams are given entirely online which raises some interesting questions. While they are timed exams, they have no oversight. So there seems to be nothing stopping someone from taking one of these exams with a stack of books next to them to reference. Or more likely, the web version of the Oxford Companion to Wine. Undoubtedly, some people eager to have bragging rights will cheat.

Given that the third level includes a blind tasting exam with Parker and Zraly (and presumably costs more than the previous ones) we won't have a lot of Parker & Zraly Wine Experts™ running around who don't actually know anything about wine, but I'll bet there will be a lot of first and second level dilettantes who will be happy to take these exams pretty much in the same way that I took the last online traffic school I attended.

It also bears mentioning that the only people who can sign up for these exams at the moment are current subscribers to Parker's web site.

The current players in the world of wine certification include the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, the Court of Master Sommeliers, and the Institute of Masters of Wine. Each of these certification programs involves much more time, energy, and money to earn the right to their particular title. In the case of the MW certification I've heard of people spending more than $10,000 and taking several years to get there.

It will be interesting to see how, where, and when people start showing up with the initials PZWA or PZWC after their names. Will Doug Frost, Ronn Wiegand, and Gerard Basset all complete the certification to retain their titles as the most certified wine professionals in the world? (Those three are the only individuals to hold both the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine titles).

More likely a lot of Parker disciples and subscribers will simply see this as an opportunity to test their knowledge for the fun of it. Which presumably is just what Parker and Zraly had in mind.

SAV_15_SBA_Badges_Finalists_wine_vote.png

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Instagram Delectable Flipboard Pinterest

Most Recent Entries

Acid Freaks Unite: Highlights From the 2015 IPOB Tasting Vinography Images: A Brief Oasis Going Dry In California Off to Taste Champagne! Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 5, 2015 Vinography Images: The Color of Spring Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 29, 2015 Vinography Images: Waves of Vines Tempranillo (and Gang) TAPAS Tasting: April 26, San Francisco A Man, An Island, and a Bottle of Grüner: The Wines of Rudi Pichler

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud