Certified Sommelier Examination

Certified Sommelier Examination

The Certified Sommelier Examinations focus on a candidate’s ability to demonstrate proficiency in deductive tasting, wine & beverage theory, and both technical as well as salesmanship skills in table-side service.

The title and credential of ‘Certified Sommelier’ is well recognized in the hospitality sector globally. Wearing the Certified Sommelier lapel pin ensures an employer and dining public that you have skills in salesmanship, the beverage program, and wine tasting abilities that have been tested by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. A theoretical knowledge of the world of wine and beverages will also provide for on call knowledge when required. 


2022 Certified Sommelier Examination  $595
Price subject to change in 2023

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Pre-Qualification & Preparation

Prerequisite: must have passed the Introductory Course & Examination within the past three years. After the elapsed time students are required to retake the Introductory Sommelier Examination in order to apply for the Certified Sommelier Examination.

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 resources page here.

  • Certified Sommelier Exam Syllabus
  • Certified Sommelier Exam Guide & What to Expect
  • Certified Sommelier Examination Tasting Grids - Red & White
  • Certified Sommelier Tasting Exam Grape Varieties and Red & White
  • 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 30 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 35 minutes. 

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 paring 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.

Passing requirement: A candidate must achieve a minimum of 60% on each section 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.

 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the suggested time to prepare for the Certified Sommelier Exam?

This is entirely up to you. We suggest giving time (1 year suggested, not required) between the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam and the Certified Sommelier Exam 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-A allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years.

Is there a workbook provided for the Certified Sommelier Exam?

We do not provide a workbook for the Certified Sommelier Exam. Please see the recommended study resources at https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resources.

What attire is required for the Certified Sommelier Exam?

Please refer to the CMS-A Dress Guidelines on the resources page at https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resource.

What supplies do I need to bring to the Certified Sommelier Exam?

A corkscrew, pen, paper (such as a captain's pad), and a calculator if needed. The rest will be provided for you.

For the service portion of the Certified Sommelier Exam, 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.

Can I skip the Introductory Course & Exam and take the Certified Sommelier Exam?

It is without exception that all candidates must pass the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam prior to taking the Certified Sommelier Exam.

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


The time the CMS-A allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years. After the elapsed time, students are required to retake the Introductory Sommelier Exam, which is avaiable in a live proctored setting online, in order to apply for the Certified Sommelier Exam. Teh Introductory Sommelier Course is optional.

Can I take Introductory Course & Exam and the Certified Sommelier Exam back-to-back?

We recommend students only take these two examinations back-to-back if they are in the service industry and proficient with their tasting and service skills. The Certified Sommelier Exam has a pass rate of 63% and it is lower for many who take the Certified Sommelier Exam directly after taking the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam. We introduce the tasting technique and the style of service that is examined at our Certified Sommelier Exam in the Introductory Sommelier Course. Taking them back-to-back does not provide a candidate ample time prepare. If you feel that you are ready for both then you may register for both.

What is your retake policy for the Certified Sommelier Exam?

Candidates must wait at least 90 days from their last attempt prior to retaking the Certified Sommelier Exam. We do not offer a discounted retake rate for the Certified Sommelier Exam.

Is there a designation after passing the Certified Sommelier Exam?

You can use the term Certified Sommelier on a resume and when speaking to customers. 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.