Wine Judge Certification Program

Study to Become 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.

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 submit an application for acceptance into the program. .

Classes for Years 1, 2 and 3 require intensive, yearlong self study followed by a one-day session and an exam at 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.

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

What to expect from the wine judge curriculum

Students receive a list of resources, references, and practices upon receipt of registration. A monthly Zoom call is provided each month that is optional but highly recommended. 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 broadly divided as follows:

  • 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 taken within two years.

Challenge Option

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. When a person challenges, they pay for all 3 years of classes (discounted to $700) which includes the final exam. The challenger must attend the Year 3 class which is offered at our National Conference and be an AWS member. After the class, they must take a written exam that proves they have the knowledge that is provided in the Classes of Year 1 and Year 2. You are welcome to attend the Year 2/3 section of the monthly Zoom calls where a selection of wines is assessed.

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.

To challenge the exam, please email the Director of Education at to discuss your experience.

Registration Information

Annual Deadline: June 30th ***Registration for 2024 is closed.***

Cost: $250 per year. For those taking the exam to certify or re-certify, there is an exam fee of $75, so for Year 3, the charge is $325.

Questions? Email the Wine Judge Certification Coordinator at

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 ($15-50); registration is handled through normal conference program registration.

Certified Wine Judges can elect to earn 15 or more continuing education units (CEUs) each year to receive the post-nominal (CWJ with Merit).

Need a Certified Wine 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.