Certified Sommelier Examination

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The Certified Sommelier Examination focuses on a candidate’s ability to demonstrate proficiency in deductive tasting, wine & beverage theory, and both technical as well as salesmanship skills in tableside service.


The title and credential of ‘Certified Sommelier’ is well recognized in the hospitality sector globally. Wearing the Certified Sommelier lapel pin assures an employer and the dining public that you have skills in salesmanship, beverage program management, and wine tasting abilities that have been tested by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. A Certified Sommelier’s theoretical knowledge of the world of wine and beverage provides for on-call expertise on the restaurant floor and beyond.

Pre-Qualification & Preparation

Prerequisite: must have passed the Introductory Course & Examination before the registration deadline, which is nine days prior to the examination. The CMS-A no longer requires that students take the Certified Sommelier Examination within three years of the Introductory Sommelier Examination. We encourage students to move to the next level when best prepared.

Recommendations: a minimum of three years in the industry is strongly suggested. Not having any industry background will make the examination extremely challenging. Allow time (1 year suggested, not required) between the Introductory and Certified for study.

Prior to enrollment, download and review the following documents from the Resource Library:

  • Certified Sommelier Exam Syllabus
  • Certified Sommelier Exam Guide & What to Expect
  • Certified Sommelier Examination Tasting
  • Grids – Red & White
  • Certified Sommelier Tasting Exam Grape Varieties
  • CMS-A Deductive Tasting Format
  • CMS-A Service Standards
  • Expected Skillset at each CMS level of certification

Certified Sommelier Examination Details​

The Certified Sommelier Examination is a one-day examination with three sections:

Tasting Examination

Utilizing the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method, candidates must describe and identify four wines (two white and two red) to the best of their ability. This is a written tasting that must be completed in 45 minutes. Download the CMS Deductive Tasting Format, Certified Sommelier Exam Tasting Grids, and Certified Examination Grape Varieties and Wines Red & White here.

Theory Examination

The theory examination tests candidates’ knowledge and understanding of the world of wine, beverage, and the sommelier trade. The test consists of multiple choice, short answer, simple math, and matching questions. Candidates must complete the 45-question examination within 38 minutes.

Hospitality & Service Examination

The practical service examination approximates a real restaurant environment, and candidates are expected to demonstrate salesmanship and knowledge while performing a variety of tableside tasks. Candidates may be asked to open still or sparkling wines, to recommend cocktails or spirits, to discuss food and wine pairing options, and to generally show their abilities as a restaurant sommelier. Candidates must arrive appropriately dressed and equipped for professional restaurant wine service. Download the CMS-A Service Standards here.

Digital Format

This exam is being offered on a digitized application called Examplify. Candidates are required to bring their own device, Windows or Mac laptops or iPads, for the Theory and Tasting portions of the exam.

Passing Requirement

A candidate must achieve a minimum of 60% on all sections within one exam sitting. Successful candidates will receive a certificate and lapel pin signifying their certification as a sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Other Resources

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