The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969. By April 1977, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established as the premier international examining body. Though its members worldwide come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, they share a proven mastery of the art, science, and history that informs a sommelier's work.


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How does someone become a Master Sommelier?

When a candidate has successfully passed all four examinations, 1) Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam, 2) Certified Sommelier Exam, 3) Advanced Sommelier Course & Exam, and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma exams, the candidate earns the Master Sommelier diploma and title.

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 168 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 143 are men and 25 are women. There are 273 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since it was established in 1969.

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, Service, and also encompasses spirits, beers, 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 or beer in the same way as the Master Sommelier program. The Court of Master Sommeliers’ approach is more hands on and practical whereas the Master of Wine program is more theoretical.

What is the difference between the Court of Master Sommeliers, GuildSomm and SommFoundation?

The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas is a non-profit organization based in the United States, with a sister chapter in the United Kingdom. The mission of the Court of Master Sommeliers is to elevate the quality of beverage service throughout the hospitality industry with our peerless credentials. We expand the rich heritage of our organization through mentorship, rigorous preparation and examination. We chart the course for current and future Master Sommeliers worldwide.

The Court offers four certifications of increasing difficulty including the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination, Certified Sommelier Examination, Advanced Sommelier Course & Examination, and Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. The Deductive Tasting Method Workshop is an elective educational program.

With the popularity and growth of the sommelier profession around the world, the Court of Master Sommeliers helps sommeliers, their employers and their guests provide/receive the best possible technical beverage service with hospitality as the ultimate goal. It is the most dependable of the certifying bodies; no one covers the entire world of beverage sales/service/hospitality better.

GuildSomm is a nonprofit membership organization based in the US whose focus is on education and community (virtual and real) for sommeliers and wine professionals worldwide. GuildSomm offers educational content beneficial to wine industry professionals across varied roles and working toward any sort of certification. Their content will benefit anyone pursuing certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

SommFoundation offers scholarships and enrichment trip opportunities for those in the wine industry, awarding over $100,000 annually in merit- and need-based financial scholarships. SommFoundation offers some scholarship opportunities to those working toward success with the Court of Master Sommeliers.