Certified Sommelier Examination

Certified Sommelier Examination

The Certified Sommelier Examination was created in 2006 to help prepare candidates for the rigors of the Advanced Sommelier Examination on the path leading to the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. In our ongoing efforts to prepare sommeliers for this path and their roles as leaders in the industry, we introduced refinements to the Certified Sommelier Examination in 2017 which will more clearly examine a candidate's proficiencies as a beverage professional in a restaurant setting. The Certified Sommelier Examination will ensure our candidates are the best prepared for the Advanced Sommelier Examination, Master Sommelier Diploma Examination, and their leadership of the sommelier industry.


Certified Sommelier Examination  $595


Why take the Certified Sommelier Examination?

A sommelier certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers is a competent and valued wine steward, able to perform the basic tasks associated with the profession. Earning the title of Certified Sommelier ensures your employer a degree of skill in salesmanship, the business of beverage program management, tasting ability, and theoretical understanding of the world of wine and beverage.

Who Can Take the Certified Sommelier Examination?

The Certified Sommelier Examination is open to anyone who has passed the Court of Master Sommeliers' Introductory Sommelier Examination within the past three years. *

What to Expect from the Certified Sommelier Examination?

The Certified Sommelier Examination is a one-day test with three separate sections: deductive tasting, theory, and practical service. In order to pass the examination, candidates must achieve a minimum 60% score in each section. Successful candidates will receive a pin signifying their certification as a sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

  1. Deductive Tasting Examination: Utilizing the Court of Master Sommelier 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 30 minutes. Candidates may download the testing grid format and list of potential grape varietals in advance from the bottom of this page or on the resources section of the website. **
  2. 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 35 minutes.
  3. Service Practical 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 paring options, and to generally show their abilities as a restaurant sommelier. Candidate may download the Service Standards from the link at the bottom of this page or on the resources section of the website.

Attire: Candidates must arrive appropriately dressed and equipped for professional restaurant wine service.


Additional Information and Application

* five (5) years with a recommendation from a Master Sommelier who is directly mentoring the student. Those who pass the introductory Sommelier Examination more than three (3) or five (5) years with a Master Sommelier recommendation will be required to re-take the Introductory Course and Examination at the reduced rate of $495. Please contact Kady Domingos at kdomingos@mastersommeliers.org to enroll.

Candidates who are not successful in passing the Certified Sommelier Examination must wait 90 days before retaking the examination; there is no reduced rate.

All students must successfully complete the Certified Sommelier Examination before applying for the Advanced Course and the Advanced Examination.


** Downlaod the Certified Examination Tasting Grids and Examinable Grape Varieties and Regions diagrams below. Please note:

  • The CMS-A will periodically rotate through all of the Certified Examinable Grape Varieties and Regions.
  • Prepare for all Certified Examinable Grape Varieties and Regions.
  • At the Certified Sommelier Examination, you are only responsible for naming the country of origin. The regions listed are the most typical and globally available examples of a given grape variety within a country.
Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the suggested time to prepare for the Certified Examination?

This is entirely up to you. We suggest giving time (1 year suggested, not required) between the Introductory Course & Examination and the Certified Examination in order to prepare the methods the Master Sommeliers use for tasting and service as these will be what you are graded on. Please note that the time the CMS allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years; 5 years with a Masters recommendation.

What supplies do I need to bring to the Certified Examination?

A corkscrew, pen, paper, and odorless lighter or matches. The rest will be provided for you.

Is there a workbook provided for the Certified Examination?

We do not provide a workbook for the Certified Examination. Please see the recommended study resources above.

For the service portion of the Certified Examination, do you provide a wine list that we are to recommend from?

We do not provide a wine list at the service exam. If recommendations are asked for, students are expected to provide specific wines with which they are familiar.

What attire is required for the Certified Examination?

For the Certified Examination, attendees are expected to wear professional attire. A minimum of a jacket and tie for men and equivalent for women such as a pant or skirt suit. We advise against wearing perfume, cologne, scented lotions, or similar products as this can disrupt you or others while tasting wines.

Is there a designation after passing the Certified Examination?

You can use the term certified sommelier on a resume and when speaking to customers, and you can qualify it by saying you are certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers. However, there is no designation of “Certified Sommelier” or CS like there is for “Master Sommeliers” using MS.

Can I skip the Introductory Course & Examination and take the Certified Examination?

It is without exception that all candidates must attend both days and pass the examination of the Introductory Course & Examination prior to taking the Certified Examination.

How long after the Introductory Course & Examination do I need to take the Certified Exam?

The time CMS allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years; 5 years with a recommendation from a Master Sommelier who is directly mentoring you.

Can I take Introductory Course & Examination and the Certified Examination back to back?

We recommend candidates only take these two programs back to back if they are in the service industry and proficient with their tasting and service skills. The Certified Examination has a pass rate of 64% and it is lower for many who take the Certified Examination directly after taking the Introductory Course & Examination. We introduce the tasting technique and the style of service that is examined at our Certified Examination in the Introductory Course, and taking them back to back does not give a candidate a lot of time to practice these items. If you feel that you are prepared for both then you can register for both.