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 Certified Sommelier Examination was launched in 2006 to assist in preparing candidates for the rigors of both Advanced and Master Sommelier Examinations. Refinement of these Examinations has led to significant updates in 2017 to better assess a sommeliers readiness to undertake higher level sommelier examinations.

The title and credential of ‘Certified Sommelier’ is well recognised in the Hospitality Sector globally. Wearing the Certified Sommelier Lapel Pin ensures your employer and dining public that you have skills in salesmanship, the beverage program you may manage 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. 

Certified Sommelier Examination  $595


Pre-Qualification & Preparation

Prerequisite: must have passed the Introductory Course & Examination within the past three years; five years with a recommendation from a Master Sommelier who is directly mentoring you. After the elapsed time candidates are required to retake the Introductory Course & 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 Recommended Study Resources
  • Certified Examination Tasting Grids-Red & White
  • Certified Examination Grape Varieties & Growing Regions-Red & White
  • CMS Deductive Tasting Format
  • CMS Service Standards
  • All “Exam Standards”

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 Examination Tasting Grids, and Certified Examination Grape Varieties & Growing Regions 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. Candidates are advised to study a general guide to wine. Download the Certified Recommended Study Resources and the Theory Exam Standards (templates for Germany, New Zealand, Beer show the depth of knowledge required and can be used as a guide of how to approach all topics of study) here.

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 service standards here.

Passing requirement: must achieve a minimum of 60% on each section within one sitting. Successful candidates will receive a certificate and lapel pin signifying their certification as a sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Certified Examination Tasting Grid

CMS Deductive Tasting Format

CMS Service Standards

Certified Exam Recommended Study Resources

Walter Clore Scholarship

The highest scorer at the Certified Examination will receive the Walter Clore scholarship from SommFoundation. This scholarship is generously made possible by a contribution from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and honors Walter Clore, often referred to as the father of the Washington wine industry. For more information, visit https://www.sommfoundation.com/scholarships/.

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 examinations back to back if they are in the service industry and proficient with their tasting and service skills. The Certified Sommelier Examination has a pass rate of 60% and it is lower for many who take the Certified Sommelier Examination directly after taking the Introductory Course & Examination. We introduce the tasting technique and the style of service that is examined at our Certified Sommelier 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.

What is your retake policy for the Certified Sommelier Examination?

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