How does someone become a Master Sommelier?

A candidate must past four levels of examinations. The first level is the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam. Next are the Certified Sommelier Exam, Advanced Sommelier Course & Exam, and lastly, the Master Sommelier Diploma exams. When a candidate has successfully passed all four levels, he or she earns the Master Sommelier diploma and can be referred to as a Master Sommelier.

What is the difference between a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine?

The Master Sommelier diploma is the highest distinction a professional can attain in fine wine and beverage service. Testing is focused on the areas needed for superior beverage department management, which include Tasting, Theory, Practical and Dining Room Application, and also encompasses spirits, beers, cigars as well as global wine knowledge.

The Master of Wine program is designed to measure knowledge in a more academic form than the Master Sommelier. The Master of Wine program is popular among negociants, writers, winemakers, and other members of the trade. It is not focused on beverage department management and service, nor does the curriculum include spirits, beer and cigars in the same way as the Master Sommelier program. The Court approach is more hands on and practical whereas the MW program is more theoretical.

What are the benefits of having a Master Sommelier diploma?

The Master Sommelier diploma distinguishes a service professional worthy of the title, and is known throughout the hospitality business worldwide. It guarantees to a potential employer that a candidate is among the most qualified in the industry, with outstanding tasting and evaluation skills, wine knowledge and outstanding abilities in service and beverage department management. Many of the finest hotel and restaurant beverage programs have a Master Sommelier at the helm.

How many Master Sommeliers are there? How many are women?

There are 147 professionals who hold the title Master Sommelier in North America and the CMS Americas. Of those 124 are men and 23 are women. There are 230 professionals worldwide who have earned the title Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.

What is the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam? How should I prepare for it?

The Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam content includes a fast-paced review of the world's wine producing regions, elements of wine service, and several tasting exercises. The Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam is a mandatory step in the four stages of testing, and is highly recommended to give a flavor for the programs comprehensiveness. An Introductory Course syllabus can be found on the website.

At the end of the second (and final) day of the course, a multiple-choice exam is given. All subjects are covered during the two days, although students should arrive with a working knowledge of wine. The pass rate for this class is about 90%. Students are not tested/graded on tasting at this point. Unlike the more rigorous Advanced and Masters levels, this course is meant to be less intense. Whether or not someone chooses to pursue the MS diploma, this class provides excellent education and training.

The level of skill needed to pass the MS Advanced Course rises dramatically. Outside preparation, study, and tasting is essential at this level. A suggested reading list is available.

What is the difference between the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Guild of Sommeliers?

The Court of Master Sommeliers is the world's preeminent examining body for wine service professionals. Only Master Sommeliers are eligible to be members of the Court. The Guild of Sommeliers is a nonprofit membership organization and educational foundation and is open to membership for all wine professionals.