Book Review: Wine Education for a Diverse Wine World

A comprehensive guide to wine education for a diverse wine world: “Leary’s Global Wineology” reviewed by Pierre Ly.

In “Leary’s Global Wineology: A Guide to Wine Education, Mentorships, & Scholarships” (Hibiscus Panama, S.A. 2022), Charlie Leary presents a clear, comprehensive resource for anyone interested in pursuing wine education from beginner to expert levels. The book is well-organized and covers programs for every budget and purpose, in both academic and non-academic settings, and in many countries.

The brief introduction defines wine studies and provides informative facts and figures on different types of wine jobs, and average salaries in each. The “Big Five” chapter offers the most detailed program descriptions because it is dedicated to the most famous and highly sought-after trade certifications, like The Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Beyond these, throughout the book, I found the presentation of each program concise yet detailed enough for readers to assess content, rigor and learning outcomes, so they can decide whether a course is worth exploring further. Many readers, especially those with a more casual interest or professionals on a budget, will be interested in chapter 7, which focuses on free online programs. The author even suggests excellent curriculum ideas to take these courses in an organized way as if you were in school.

While the comprehensive coverage of all types of wine programs alone makes the book worth buying, I was impressed with the author’s treatment of diversity, equity and inclusion in wine education, to discuss issues like bias, racism and sexism. This is important because criticisms of the insularity and lack of diverse representation in the wine industry have gained more visibility in recent years. I appreciated that the author did not include this as part of program descriptions, but instead used it as a framework, encouraging readers to “be aware of any program’s historical background and biases.” These are systemic issues that are not limited to problems affecting a single program, such as the recent CMS scandals, which the author also discusses.

I would recommend that users of this guide take the time to look at chapters 1, 2 and 9, before using the table of contents to explore the specific programs they are interested in. Chapter 1’s history of wine studies offers a concise, yet thorough comparison of different wine education providers’ backgrounds and agendas, as well as reflections on the insularity of the wine trade and its continued lack of diverse representation. As the author notes, this is not to take away from the high value-added of their programs, but to help readers understand the issues they might face if they enter them. Interested readers can go deeper by exploring Leary’s references like wine writers Elaine Chukan Brown and Julia Coney.

Both chapter 2’s presentation of scholarships, and chapter 9’s coverage of mentorship programs, include several organizations focused on increasing BIPOC and women’s representation in the industry, like Bâtonnage, Vinequity, and Wine Unify. Finally, chapter 9 is addressed to wine education professionals as a starting point to reflect on their work to become more inclusive, and to incorporate more discussion of environmental and social issues in their curricula. For the past decade, I have been teaching a college course that Mike Veseth invented, The Idea of Wine, that invites students not just to know more about the product, but also to see how wine can help us understand big picture societal questions. It is aimed at college seniors, most of whom come with almost zero knowledge of wine. While students are excited about vineyard and wine production knowledge, what catches their attention in the end is the bigger picture. In chapter 9, Leary discusses wine’s connection to topics like climate change, the slave trade, fair labor practices and racism, and suggests they could be incorporated in wine education.

Chapter 4’s coverage of other international programs is excellent, if necessarily limited so as not to make the book over a thousand pages long. Given the importance of China (a very important market for WSET), more programs could be included. To make the book more useful for Chinese readers, it would be useful to mention other options, notably university degrees offered by the School of Enology at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University near Xi’an, and at the University of Ningxia. The School of Enology (which, besides viticulture and enology, offers wine appreciation and wine business courses) is important enough to be included among degree programs in chapter 5 or 6.

The book is written in English, so it includes more programs taught in that language. However, the author did include some programs in other languages, but they are difficult to locate. It would be helpful if future editions of the book could include a list of non-English language programs, organized by language and page number, either at the beginning of the book or in an appendix. Additionally, it would be great if there was interest in translating the book to cater to local interests. Finally, while the issue of program costs is discussed at length in chapter 2 (which is about scholarships), it would be beneficial to include a column in program summary tables throughout the book that shows the prices of the programs.

Overall, Leary’s Global Wineology provides not only a comprehensive guide to just about anyone interested in wine education, from those seeking basic consumer knowledge, to advanced wine professionals looking to boost their credentials. Perhaps any knowledgeable person could have compiled such a list. But what makes the book stand out is the author’s thought-provoking coverage of wine education’s current and future, and its critical eye toward areas for growth, making the book relevant to wine educators as well. Highly recommended for wine enthusiasts and professionals alike.


Pierre Ly is Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound and author, with Cynthia Howson, of Adventures on the China Wine Trail.

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