Sommelier Society of America
The First Wine Teaching Institute

Sommelier Society of America Certificate Course Schedule

SSA Certificate Course has two sessions per year; Fall / Winter beginning the in September, and Spring / Summer beginning in March. Please call or email us for specific dates.


Schedule for Sommelier Certificate Course Spring~Summer 2018


Week 1: Introduction, Business & Service and Pouring

In the United States, there is only one industry more regulated than the Alcohol Industry. Do you know which that might be? You will find the answer in the very first class. This initial class is the core and foundation that covers issues concerning wine sales and the basic services that the Sommelier – a consummate wine professional – must know. We outline the role of the Sommelier: purchasing, storage, temperatures, glassware – all the need-to-knows for the wine professional.

Week 2: Components of Wine & Tasting

This session focuses on identifying the components of wine (for example acids, tannins) and understanding what they contribute and how they affect taste.

Week 3: ViTiculture, Vinification & Cooperage

Viticulture is the art and science of growing and identifying grapes. Vinification, on the other hand, is devoted to the vineyard. Combining these is Vinification in the winery itself, where the winemaker uses his gifts and makes his magic. And finally, Cooperage is concerned with wood casks and aging.


Week 4: Rhône & Southern France

The Rhône is known for a large number of varietals needing plenty of warmth to ripen, making mostly blended wines. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the most renowned wine of the region, while the Côte du Rhône is represented by ever-quaffable selections including Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Grenache. Bordeaux wines are divided into the left bank and the right bank, with two rivers between. Five distinct red grapes are used in construction of Bordeaux red wines, and three white varietals have that honor for white Bordeaux wines.

Week 5: Loire & Alsace regions

Experience and taste why the Loire Valley produces crisp wines that perfectly complement fish and poultry. The varietal wines from the Alsace, which have similar esteem as the wines from the Loire, are also explored in this session.

Week 6: Burgundy

Beginning in the north with Chablis, the unique world-renowned Kimmeridgean soil nurtures the Chardonnay grape. Heading south, we’ll venture through the Côte d’Or, the lesser known Côte Chalonaise, the Mâcon, and, the popular and well-known Beaujolais – there are four versions.

Week 7: Bordeaux

Bordeaux wines are divided into the left bank and the right bank, with two rivers between. Five distinct red grapes are used in construction of Bordeaux red wines, and three white varietals have that honor for white Bordeaux wines.

Week 8: Champagne

A sparkling wine can be called Champagne if it’s made in the Champagne region in France, from three specific grape varietals; if it’s made elsewhere, it’s a ‘sparkling wine’, made in the ‘méthode champenoise.’ Generous donations from The Champagne Bureau and Ayala Champagne.


Week 9: Southern Italy & its Islands

Introduction into Italian wine laws, appellations and understanding Italian wine labels. We are beginning our Italian wine journey with the southern regions of Campagna, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Week 10: Tuscany & Central Italy

Our wine journey continues with a focus on the fine wines of Tuscany. In this special region old world classics meet some of the world’s most favorite modern wines. Also included are the fine wines of Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, the Marche and Emilia-Romagna.

Week 11: Piedmont & Northern Italy

In our third class on Italy we explore the Italian the power house regions of Piedmont and Veneto, which boast an abundance of world famous DOCG wines. We also explore the northern regions of Lombardy, Friuli, Trentino-Alto Adige.

Week 12: Spain

Spain has more land under the vine than any other country in the world – more than four million acres. Spain’s Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso, are great quality fortifieds; Cava, the greatest sparkling wine value on the market. Generous donations from Vintage Wines, Inc.

Week 13: Germany, Austria & Central europe

This class covers some of the greatest cool climate wines the world has to offer. Meet Riesling at home and all it’s exciting siblings. We also focus on the Central European wine producing countries of Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia.

Week 14: Portugal & Eastern Mediterranean

The other Iberian, Portugal, is where one finds great table wines, almost all reds. A white is the Vinho Verde, a light, dry and easy to drink wine. In this session you may meet a few Old World surprises from Greece, Lebanon & Israel. Generous donations from Gotham Wines & Liquors.

Week 15: Fortified Wines

Fortified wines have alcohol added to them to arrest fermentation and leave some of the sugars unfermented. They are often enriched with brandy, and are usually 16% to 20% alcohol. They are typically used as appetizer or dessert wines. Categories include four basic types, Sherry, Port, Madeira, Marsala.

Week 16: Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Hemisphere is made up of regions including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile & Argentina. The strengthening global economy has encouraged growth of new export markets for these wines.

Week 17: California

Any and all classic varietals planted, essentially from France, have developed over California’s history. The original grape planted was called the Mission grape, believed to have come from France or perhaps Spain.

Week 18: Pacific Northwest & New York State

Serious rivals to California dominance are the neighbors to the north. The Riesling and even the Chardonnay grape like the cooler climate. The wines of Oregon and Washington closely resemble their European cousins. New York State is the champion of the east with vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork, the Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes & Niagara County.

Week 19: Deductive Tasting

In this unique class, the wines are all blind-tasted. Different varietals are chosen, each from an Old World country/region and its New World equivalent. How do climate and soil – the terroir – affect the taste? Which can you identify? What are their differences? Similarities?

Week 20: The Final Examination

The Sommelier Certificate Course Final Examination includes all topics covered during the twenty weeks and three blind tastings.