Level IV: Master Sommelier Diploma Examination Details


Please read the following, as there are vital changes to the structure, pricing and application systems. Note that the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas and EU chapters have different policies for applying to Advanced and Master's exams. Please read our Site Policy for more information.

A Master Sommelier Theory Examination ONLY will be administered on March 2, 2015

  • This examination is MANDATORY for ALL candidates sitting for the first time OR candidates who do not hold any portions of the examination
  • Candidates holding Tasting and/or Practical portions of the MS Diploma Examination CANNOT sit Theory Only in February; they MUST sit the Full MS Exam in May (see below)
  • CMS will offer the same Theory examination simultaneously in Atlanta, GA, Irving, TX and San Francisco, CA
  • Candidates may request a venue city at the time of accepting their invitation
    • Priority is weighted on the geographical location of the Candidate, but not guaranteed
  • This portion is an oral examination administered exactly as it has been in years past
  • Candidates who achieve this portion of the MS Diploma Examination will then be invited to attend the Practical and Tasting portions in May (see below)
  • Application details are outlined on the following pages


A Full Master Sommelier Diploma Examination will be administered on May 17-20, 2015

·         MANDATORY for ALL candidates “on the clock”/holding any portion(s) of the MS Diploma Examination

·         Application details are outlined on the following pages

NOTE: The Court of Master Sommeliers Europe will not implement the changes to these qualifications and will continue to offer a five day Advanced Course and Examination. Please see the Examination Site Policy (link) for further details on where Candidates may sit depending on their geographic location and exam history.  The respective Boards of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas and the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe work together to ensure that the level of the qualifications remains the same no matter where candidates sit for them. Candidates should note that the only differences to the qualifications are the format in which they are offered.


The Master Sommelier Diploma Examination is similar in format and content to that of the Advanced Sommelier Examination in that it consists of three parts: a theory examination (an oral examination and not written), a blind tasting of six wines, and a practical wine service examination.  The minimum passing score for each of the three sections is 75% as opposed to 60% for the Advanced Exam.  Students must first pass the Master Sommelier THEORY Examination and then have three consecutive years to pass the remaining two parts of the examination.  Thus a student who passes one or two parts may retake those he or she failed in during the next two years.  If all three parts are not passed during a three year period the entire exam must be retaken. Members of the examining panel are Master Sommeliers chosen by the Examinations Committee and the Director of Education.

The candidate is required to wear professional working attire and to also provide all tools of the sommelier trade for the examination. The candidate should exhibit a high standard of both technical and social skills throughout the examination, and demonstrate the courtesy and charm of a Master Sommelier. It is also essential that the candidate demonstrate excellent salesmanship.

Who can take the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination?


Students who pass the Advanced Exam (on the average about 25%-30%) are eligible to apply to take the Master Sommelier Examination itself. The pass rate for the Master Sommelier THEORY Examination is approximately 10%.


Part 1. Practical Restaurant Wine Service and Salesmanship

·     Discuss, recommend and serve aperitifs, displaying a thorough knowledge of their ingredients and production methods as well as the ability to serve them correctly.

·     Select, prepare and position glassware necessary for the service of all beverages in the lounge, restaurant, or private function room.

·     Discuss menu content and wine list, recommending wines to accompany a wide range of foods; displaying a sound knowledge of the products, their vintages and characteristics.

·     Present, offer, prepare, (decanting when necessary) and serve wines, demonstrating a high degree of efficiency and proficiency.

·     Present, offer, prepare and serve brandies, liqueurs and other spirits, including knowledge of the proper serving portions for each.

·     Handle questions and complaints with skill, elegance and diplomacy.

Part 2. Theory: what does the Sommelier need to know?

·     Speak with authority on the wine areas of the world and their products.

·     Know the principal grape varieties used in winemaking and the areas of the world where they are cultivated.

·     Answer questions on international wine laws, including the European Community, United States, Australia and other global wine regions.

·     Display knowledge of fortified wines, their vinification, storage and handling.

·     Describe the various methods of distillation and the making of spirits and liqueurs, as well as the process of making beers and ciders and the reasons for the variations in style between different products.

·     Knowledge of cigar production, with special reference to Havanas, will be required.

·     Discuss how the products should be properly stored to ensure that they remain in the optimum condition.

Part 3. Practical Tasting

The tasting examination is scored on the candidate's verbal abilities to clearly and accurately describe six different wines. Within twenty-five minutes he or she must:

·     Identify, where appropriate, grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintages of the wines tasted.