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Wine Judge Certification Program


Study to Be an AWS Certified Wine Judge

Explore wine on a deeper level

If you want to become a competent wine judge or simply want to learn how to better evaluate wines for personal or professional reasons, the AWS Wine Judge Certification Program (WJCP) provides the advanced training to earn certified wine judge (CWJ) credentials.

The intensive wine training allows AWS members to form objective, educated, and critical opinions on wines, making them ideal judges for wine competitions around the globe.

Need a judge for your wine competition?

AWS Wine Judges are available to judge in any recognized amateur or commercial wine competition. Using these judges adds credibility to your event since entrants know their wines will receive accurate and fair evaluation by highly skilled judges. Connect with our certified wine judges.

Requirements for wine judge study

The three-year Wine Judge Certification Program is open to all current AWS members with at least two years of chapter comparative tasting, or equivalent experience. Candidates must pass a qualification entrance exam before beginning Year 1.

Classes for Years 1, 2 and 3 require intensive, yearlong self study followed by a one-day session and exam held the Thursday of the AWS National Conference, at the conference location. WJCP students do not need to attend the conference to participate in WJCP, but why would you want to miss all of the fun?

Classes for all three years must be completed within a four-year period, unless special permission is granted. Additionally, students must participate in judging at two competitions per year in Years 2 and 3 and manage one competition during the three-year period. Verification forms must be signed by the competition chairperson and submitted to the WJCP Chair.

What to expect from the wine judge curriculum

 Students receive a list of resources, references, and practices upon receipt of registration. It is imperative to study these materials extensively over several months and test yourself repeatedly at home, well in advance of the on-site test.

The curriculum for each year is generally:

  • Year 1: Essentials of Wine Evaluation—includes vocabulary, components, appearance, aroma, flavors, taste, texture, balance, flaws, as well as objective evaluation and scoring.
  • Year 2: Factors Affecting Wine Quality and Variety Identification—includes the influence of viticultural (grape growing) and enological (winemaking) practices, variety characterization and identification, wine styles, wine components and flaws, and objective evaluation and scoring.
  • Year 3: Judging of Wine Styles—includes classes and types of wines, blending, judging environment, wine components, wine competitions, and objective evaluation and scoring.

Students take an exam at the end of the class for each of the three years. Exam content relates to materials covered in the syllabus and the one-day class for each year. Evaluations typically include written, tasting, and identification of component/balance/flaws. Failure of the exams given at the end of Years 1 or 2 requires the student to retake that year’s course. One retake of the year three exam is permitted if done within two years.

For members who have EXTENSIVE wine judging abilities and experience who want to “challenge” the program exam you can now opt to take the final exam without completing the individual 3 years of instruction. The fee is the total cost of the program and exam fees. IF you challenge the program and fail the test, you will be allowed to enter Year 1 of the program at no charge. This credit is ONLY good for 1 year after the date of your failed challenge to the program.

If you wish to challenge the exam, please discuss your experience with the Wine Judge Certification Coordinator at

To maintain your certification, you must pass the final exam every five years.

Wine Judge Continuing Education Program

 The AWS offers an annual educational session during the AWS National Conference that is designed to keep the Certified Wine Judges up-to-date and to hone their basic skills. This is an additional cost ($15-$25); registration is handled through normal conference program registration.

Sign up early for wine judge certification

Don’t delay in registering. Courses fill quickly, and you need to leave time for your home study.

The cost is $200 for each year. For Year 3 students, there is an additional exam fee of $50.

For information on the 2020 program, email the Wine Judge Certification Coordinator at


Register for the Wine Judge Certification Program


Contact us

American Wine Society
PO Box 889
Scranton, PA 18501
(888) 297-9070