Certified Sommelier Examination
The Certified Sommelier Examination is the second of four steps required to become a Master Sommelier. The intent of the Certified Sommelier Examination is to examine a candidate’s proficiency as a beverage professional, in a restaurant setting, to ensure the candidate is prepared for the rigors of the Advanced Sommelier Examination, the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination, and their role as a leader in the sommelier industry.
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 Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier certification ensures an 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.
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.
The highest scorer at the Certified Examination will receive the Walter Clore scholarship from the Guild of Sommeliers/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.
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.
A corkscrew, pen, paper, and odorless lighter or matches. The rest will be provided for you.
We do not provide a workbook for the Certified Examination. Please see the recommended study resources above.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.