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Wine Judge Certification Program


The "More in this section" drop down menu above contains links to our FAQ page as well as student pages for Years 1, 2 & 3 classes. Links to student pages are only active for registered students. 


Click here to see the list of AWS Certified Wine Judges

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.






Director of Education & WJCP Coordinator, Aaron Mandel, congratulates the 2015 Graduates and Recertified Judges

Pictured L to R: Joe Paparella, Rick Cusker, Kristin Casler-Kraft (re-certified), Lois Kaneshiki, Cindy Sproehnle, Scott Montgomery, Laurie Jaeger, Jack Sproehnle (re-certified), Paul Tonacci, Aaron Mandel, Ron Natalie, Donnie Nettles (re-certified), William Wigle, Dave Caruso

Not pictured: Rick Allen


Note: The 2016 Year 1 class is full and we cannot accept additional students. Please contact wjcp@americanwinesociety.org for additional information.

About the AWS Wine Judge Certification Program




To train and test AWS members in their ability to form objective, educated, and critical opinions on wines.





All participants must be current "paid" AWS members with at least two years of Chapter comparative tasting, or equivalent, are eligible when the prerequisites are fulfilled.




The overall program will be inclusive - for individuals who want to become competent judges and for those who want to learn how to evaluate wines better through advanced training. Attendance at annual AWS National Conferences is mandatory as this is where the sessions are held.




Three years. The Level I classes (Year 1, 2, and 3) must be completed within a four year period, unless special permission is granted. Additionally, students must participate in judging at two competitions per year and manage one competition during the three year period (these verification forms will be given to participants and they must be signed by competition chairperson and sent to the WJCP Chair).


Wine Judge Certification Program (WJCP) is a three-year program designed to train the individual in the basic tools to objectively evaluate wines.
Recommended preparation: Successful completion of the WJCP Entrance Exam. Each class is an intensive one day course held the Thursday of AWS Conference week and considerable self-study (pre-class), practice and preparation is expected. A list of resources, references, and practices is mailed upon receipt of registration.

Evaluation: Exams will be given at the end of the class for each of the three years. Exam content will relate to materials covered in the syllabus and the one day class for each year. Evaluations typically include written, tasting, and identification of component/balance/flaw. Failure of the exams given at the end of year one or two will require the trainee to retake that year’s work. One retake of the year 3 exam is permitted if done within two years.

Year 1: Essentials of Wine Evaluation: includes vocabulary, components, appearance, aroma, flavors, taste, texture, components, 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. 



Wine Judge Continuing Education Program: This annual educational session, offered during the AWS Conference program sessions, is designed to keep the Graduate Wine Judges up-to-date and to hone their basic skills. This is an additional cost ($15-25) and registration is handled through normal Conference Program Registration.
REGISTRATION: Students for Level I will receive registration materials from the WJCP Chairperson. The cost is $150.00 for each year ($275 for the spring Year 1 class in Virginia), payable to the AWS, and mailed to the WJTP Chairperson. For Year 3 students, an additional exam fee of $50 is assessed. SPACE IS LIMITED! RESERVE EARLY

For information on the 2016 program, email the Wine Judge Certification Coordinator at: wjcp@americanwinesociety.org


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