Hospitality industry professionals and wine aficionados in the Cayman Islands, and even those living abroad, can now earn a high-level certification from one of the most globally recognized wine educators in the world – right here on Grand Cayman.

Wine School 3 co-owner and instructor Christian Esser.
Wine School 3 co-owner and instructor Christian Esser.

Cayman’s Wine School 3 will offer the Wine & Spirit Education Trust – WSET – Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits course for the first time, with the nine-week course starting June 8.

“This course really gets you [trained] up to run a restaurant wine program,” said Christian Esser, one of the owners and educators of Wine School 3, noting that during the nine-week course, participants will taste 90 different wines and 20 different spirits, in addition to extensive instruction.

The wines tasted will include older vintages and some classic, well-known wines.

“They’re no entry-level Malbecs,” Esser said.


Established two years ago, Wine School 3 offers a variety of wine and spirits courses, including some for beginners who want to learn the basics. The WSET Level 1 Award in Wines is designed to give students basic knowledge of wine varieties and styles, food and wine pairings, and the best way to store and serve wine.

For the first time this spring, Esser and his business partner, Shalico Christian, taught the Level 1 course at the University College of the Cayman Islands as part of the School of Hospitality Studies program.

UCCI School of Hospitality Studies students taking the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines exam.
UCCI School of Hospitality Studies students taking the WSET Level 1 Award in Wines exam.

The course, which involved twice-weekly, two-hour classes over five weeks, involved instruction, wine tasting and a written test that 15 of the participating 16 students passed, Esser said, adding that the class was so popular that it will be available again for the fall 2016 term.

UCCI is not the only entity seeing the value of the Wine School 3 courses; Cayman’s National Workforce Development Agency also does.

“The NWDA has asked us to put together a bartending course,” Esser said. “It will be twice a week over three months, starting in June.”

One of the class days each week will involve instruction and practice, and the second class day of the week will offer practical experience working at bars.

“We’ve partnered up with some pool bars and restaurant bars,” Esser said, adding that the idea of the course is to teach people skills that would make them readily employable in the beverage sector here in the Cayman Islands or elsewhere. The course is open to anyone age 18 or older.

Hub for wine education

The Wine School 3 Level 2 Award in Wine & Spirits courses, which were launched last year, have been popular with Cayman’s wholesale and retail alcoholic beverage businesses as a way of improving knowledge-based customer service and, by extension, increasing sales.

Wine School 3 co-owner and instructor Shalico Christian, teaching one of the wine classes.
Wine School 3 co-owner and instructor Shalico Christian, teaching one of the wine classes.

“We had 75 people take the Level 2 Award course last year, which, for the size of Cayman, is good,” he said.

However, since Wine School 3 has made Grand Cayman one of only two places in Caribbean – the other is St. Lucia – to offer certified wine education, the courses are attracting people from off island as well.

“We have some people coming from Antigua and Barbados to take the [Level 3] course,” Esser said, adding that there’s interest from abroad in both the Level 2 and Level 3 Award courses.

“We’ve become an international hub for wine education in the Caribbean,” Esser added.

To meet the growing demand for the classes, Wine School 3 has added two more full-time instructors to join Esser, one of whom is the business’s co-owner, Shalico Christian.

“He’s now a certified instructor, too,” Esser said, adding that another instructor from the U.K. will start with Wine School 3 in June.

Sake specialty

In addition, in September, Wine School 3 will be bringing in a short-term instructor to conduct a three-day Level 3 Award in sake, a course developed by WSET in conjunction with Japan’s National Institute of Brewing.

“We have a couple people coming from the U.S. to take that course,” he said.

Wine School 3 also offers a number of one-day, non-WSET certified courses for interested individuals or corporate team-building efforts on topics such as Champagne, sparkling wine, mixology, wine service, food and wine pairing, ranging from $99 to $199 per person.

Wine School 3 runs it courses out of several locations, depending on the size of the class. Some take place in the Eucalyptus Building on Shedden Road, while others are held in various board rooms that are rented.