Hattiesburg Wine Shop Owner Becomes First Mississippian with Prestigious Wine Certification

Published 7:32 pm Thursday, June 1, 2023

By: Brandy Raanes

Christen Raanes, owner of The Little Wine Shoppe, earns WSET Diploma.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Christen Raanes, owner of The Little Wine Shoppe in Hattiesburg, MS,
recently became the first Mississippian to complete her Diploma with the Wine and Spirits
Education Trust (WSET).
Raanes joins a prestigious group of only 12,500 graduates from around the world to have completed
this globally recognized qualification over the last 54 years. 587 candidates completed the Diploma
program in 2022.

“Studying with the WSET offered me the ability to turn a hobby into a passion and a passion into a
career. I love working in wine retail. It’s exciting to introduce wines and the information about what
makes them distinctive or special to our customers. It’s also awesome to see the wine community
that has sprung up in conjunction with our tastings and club,” said Raanes.

Founded in 1969, the WSET is headquartered in London and is one of the world’s leading providers
of wine education. As WSET’s highest certification, the WSET Diploma offers an expert-level
understanding of the factors influencing a wine’s style, quality, and price through an in-depth study of
numerous wine regions and tasting skills. The Diploma program is the fourth and final level of wine
certification offered by the WSET. It encompasses six individual units that each candidate must
successfully pass in order to receive the qualification. Each candidate’s knowledge is assessed via
essay questions under time conditions, including a total of 18 blind wine analyses over the course of
three units. Raanes completed her diploma coursework over two and a half years, traveling to
Washington, D.C. for testing periodically.

Originally from Waynesboro, Mississippi, Raanes attended the University of Southern Mississippi
for her undergraduate degree. She also holds the designation of Certified Specialist of Wine. Raanes
opened the Little Wine Shoppe in Hattiesburg’s The District at Midtown in June 2021. The store,
which specializes in unique wines, offers daily samples, private tastings, and a monthly wine club.
Raanes plans to host a wine festival at the Bottling Company on August 19th of this year. More
information is available at www.thelittlewineshoppe.com.