winetimeshk.blogspot.com - 04:00, 27th June, 2012
Guest Blogger: Wine Education Is A Booming Business In Hong Kong
HONG KONG Interest in wine in Hong Kong is a direct result of the abolition of taxes in February 2008, combined with a cosmopolitan market of people who want to use wine as a networking tool.
The most prestigious qualifications come from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in the United Kingdom.
Hong Kong and Macau contain less than 0.2 per cent of the world’s population yet 28 of the 440 WSET approved education providers worldwide – almost 7 per cent of the total – are in those cities. The number of students in Hong Kong jumped 67 per cent in the year to February 2012, WSET data showed. Level 1 student numbers soared 80 percent in the same period.
Only approved companies are allowed to advertise WSET qualifications. These qualifications are recognised worldwide and are available in 58 countries. About 35,000 people take WSET examinations each year. International candidates account for 70 per cent of the total.
The Asia Wine Service & Education Centre (AWSEC) is the only program provider in Hong Kong approved to run courses at all levels.
The first level provides a basic introduction to wine and runs for six hours. Level 2 offers broad coverage of all wine regions. Level 3 focuses on in-depth knowledge of a wide range of wines and spirits and is aimed at industry practitioners. The diploma in wines and spirits, level 4, is WSET’s flagship qualification.
This diploma is seen as the stepping stone to the highly-prestigious Master of Wine qualification. Only 299 people hold the MW worldwide. A handful of people are studying for the MW in this region. Hong Kong has two MWs, Debra Meiburg and Jeannie Cho Lee.
Jennie Mack is AWSEC’s managing director and senior wine educator. She runs courses six evenings a week from their offices in Sheung Wan.
Mack said a feature of Hong Kong was the range of professional people taking courses, and the high ratio of women students. Level 2 classes sometimes had four women for every man.
Level 2 courses cost $6,300 to $6,800 – though discounts are available for paying a month in advance – and run for two hours a night over eight weeks. Fees for level 3 courses are about $9,800, though again discounts are available for payment in advance. These run for 14 weeks for 2.25 hours each week.
Fees appear high in Hong Kong compared with UK prices. Level 2 on the WSET web site costs 405 GBP, or $4,922. Level 3 costs 675 GBP or $8,204.
Written by Stephen Quinn
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