ForceBrands is proud to partner with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust which provides globally recognized education and qualifications in wines, spirits, and sake, for professionals and enthusiasts.
As Executive Director of WSET Americas, Dave Rudman has taken on the task of ensuring WSET meets the high demand for wine and spirits education in North and South America. As a Level 4 Diploma graduate himself, he shares his views on wine education in the U.S.
Q: When and how did you first become interested in wine and spirits?
A: At the age of 23, I found myself quite irresponsibly living in Brooklyn without much purpose, and without employment. The only job I could get was polishing wine glasses as a bar-back at a neighborhood wine bar. The bartender for whom I was fortunate enough to bar-back for most nights was also a wine salesman, and always had in tow his samples from the day. He recognized my willingness to learn, so each night, after our shift, he would have me blind taste the wines and describe them to him. I tasted many wines with him that I have never forgotten. I made it my mission to learn as much as I possibly could about wine from that moment.
Q: What are the main things you want to achieve in your role as Executive Director of WSET Americas?
A: My mission in the Americas is for WSET to be instantly recognizable to all American professionals and enthusiasts as the best-in-class for wine and spirits education. We now have an office on the ground, as well as a team of Business Development and Quality Assurance Advisors working remotely from different locations in the U.S., and we are continuing to recruit to expand this geographical reach. Additionally, we have massively increased our participation in major trade events across the continents. The demand for this type of education in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America is very high, and WSET’s increased presence here will inspire and empower.
Q: WSET candidate numbers in the USA have risen phenomenally over the past few years. What do you think is driving this demand for wine and spirits education?
A: A total of 14,204 U.S. students completed a WSET course in our academic year 2017/2018. This was an increase of 24 percent from the previous year. This growth in demand is driven by consumers’ desire for knowledge and information about products, especially insofar as it relates to their genuineness and authenticity. The trade has no choice but to prepare themselves to be experts for their customers, and there is no better way to do this than to study with WSET and enjoy the confidence and prestige our certifications offer!
Q: What drinks trends are you noticing in the US wine and spirits world this year?
A: It’s amazing how many more Americans are drinking sparkling wine and sparkling wine cocktails on-premises. Rosé has really found its moment, as it naturally seems to express a certain set of “lifestyle” attributes: light, fun, vibrant. On the spirits side, whisky continues to roll and consumers are demanding more and more varied offerings. Consumers overall are more receptive than I have ever seen to new wines and spirits — so long as they trust the knowledge of the bartender or wine-server!
Q: You have recently completed your WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits. What difference does being a Diploma graduate make in your role?
A: In addition to the expert-level knowledge studying for the Diploma has given me, it is the network of professionals across all segments of our business that I believe holds the most lifetime value for a WSET alumnus. I recently attended an alumni event with Maggie Campbell, who represents the U.S. on WSET’s Alumni Relations Board. Maggie put it so well when talking about the career value of learning with WSET. She commented that there are so many Diploma alumni working in every facet of the industry that when you need to crowdsource information, find someone who works in a specialized area, or gain an introduction to a person you think can help your career, there is almost always someone ready to help in the WSET alumni community. Additionally, by having your WSET certifications on your resume, you are showing potential employers that you not only possess the skills and knowledge that come from studying with us, but that you are dedicated to learning and staying current in our always-changing business. I knew that WSET could prepare me for a very broad range of career paths in our business — although I had no idea it would lead me to work directly for WSET!
If you’d like to know more about how WSET qualifications can help your business or are interested in becoming a WSET course provider in U.S., please contact Dave at email@example.com.