A growing thirst for wine knowledge in China has prompted the Wine & Spirit Education Trust to develop a Chinese language version of its Level Three 'advanced' course.
A handful of the Trust's 42 teaching centres in mainland China will debut its Level Three Wine and Spirits course, formerly known as the 'advanced' level, in Chinese from 1 January.
In terms of student numbers, 'China is now our second biggest country after the UK', according to Ian Harris, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
While the UK's 63m population fits more than 20 times into China's 1.3bn, the WSET's figures suggest a sustainable wine culture is taking root in mainland China.
This is despite the current difficulties in the country's fine wine market, which has faced a build-up of stocks following government curbs on officials' entertainment budgets.
'Last year, we had 5,256 students in mainland China, which represented 55% growth on the previous year, and that was 100% up on the year before that,' Harris told decanter.com.
'Growth in China has been so fast, developing a Chinese language course has become a priority for us.'
The WSET launched its Levels One and Two courses in Chinese in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Level Three has taken a few months more than expected to arrive, because of the need to get examiners and markers up to the required standard, Harris said.
The body's Level Three pilot will run for the first half of 2014, allowing it to test translated materials, assess teaching and audit standards of assessment. If all goes well, a full launch is planned for the 2014/15 academic year.
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