Introductory Course & Examination

Introductory Course & Examination

The Court of Master Sommelier, Americas Introductory Course & Examination is the first of four required steps to become a Master Sommelier. 

The intent of the Introductory Course is to provide wine and hospitality professionals with a thorough review to the world of wines and spirits at the highest professional standards.

Candidates receive an intensive review by a team of Master Sommeliers on wine and spirits knowledge, proper wine service, and deductive tasting.


Introductory Course & Examination $525

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Pre-Qualification and Preparation

The Introductory Course & Examination is open to all beverage and hospitality professionals.

Students must come prepared! A candidate's success in the Introductory Course & Examination will depend on a combination of career experience and level of preparation prior to the Course.

The Introductory Course workbook will be provided digitally upon registration. Reviewing this workbook plus using Guildsomm.com and the list of suggested resourses, which can be found at the bottom, on this page will ensure success.

With initial registration each student receives a 1-year membership to GuildSomm.com.  

Course Details

The Introductory Course & Examination is given over a two-day period from 8am until approximately 5pm.

This program is a fast-paced, intensive review of the world's wine producing regions. Students will learn the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method and be shown elements of classic wine service.

At the end of the second (and final) day of the course, a multiple-choice exam of seventy questions is given. A student must achieve a minimum score of 60% to pass.

The Introductory Course & Examination is a prerequisite for the Certified Sommelier Examination.

Candidates have three years after passing the Introductory Examination to sit the Certified Sommelier Examination or the candiates must re-take the Introductory Course & Examination at the reduced rate of $325.

Candidates who successfully complete the Introductory Examination have achieved the following:

  • Have received intensive instruction over two days from a team of Master Sommeliers.
  • Have received an overview of all the major wine growing regions of the world, as well as instruction in spirits, beer, saké and proper wine service.
  • Have passed a written examination based on the material covered throughout the 2-day course.
  • Are capable of discussing and serving a comprehensive range of alcoholic beverages with confidence and skill.
  • Have learned the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method from some of the best wine tasters in the world—a tasting method that is an integral part of the Certified Sommelier Examination, the Advanced Sommelier Course and the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. The acquired tasting skills will enable them to confidently recognize basic wine quality and flaws.
  • Have received adequate direction to successfully study and prepare for the Certified Sommelier Exam, the prerequisite for the Advanced Sommelier Course and Master Sommelier Diploma Examination itself.

 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the format of the Introductory Course & Examination?

The Introductory Course is two-days of a very fast-paced intensive review of the world's wine producing regions, elements of wine service, and several tasting exercises. At the end of the second day, from approx. 3:45 to 4:30, a multiple-choice exam of seventy questions is given followed by the results and sparkling wine reception at 5:00.

How do I prepare for the Introductory Course & Examination?


A student’s success in the Introductory Course & Examination will depend on a combination of career experience and level of preparation. A minimum of three years in the wine/service industry is strongly recommended. It is expected that students walk in the door with strong knowledge of all major wine producing countries and regions of the world and basic wine service. In preparation, it's recommended that students acquire a general guide to wine to reference and reinforce the topics included on the Introductory Course syllabus. Download the Introductory Course Syllabus and Recommended Study Resources at www.mastersommeliers.org/resources. Upon enrollment, students receive access to download the Introductory workbook which follows the PowerPoint presentation. 

If I am not in the beverage service industry can I take the Introductory Course & Examination?

The Court of Master Sommelier programs are specifically designed for those in the beverage hospitality industry and not the wine consumer. For the Introductory Course & Examination and the Certified Examination we recommend that you have a minimum of three years in the beverage service industry, but it is not required. The Advanced Course & Examination and the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination have a mandatory three year minimum experience in the beverage service industry before applying.

I have no prior knowledge/experience with wine...Is this program for me?

It is expected that students walk in the door with strong knowledge of all major wine producing countries and regions of the world and basic wine service. A minimum of three years in the wine/service industry is recommended, but not required.

Can I take the Introductory Course & Examination if I am under 21 in Canada, Central, or South America?

It is without exception that candidates must be 21 years of age.

Can the workbook be mailed?

We do not mail the workbook. Upon enrollment, students can download the workbook. At the course check-in, students will receive a spiral-bound hard copy of the workbook to use in class and take home.

Do you offer practice examinations?

We do not offer practice exams. The Guild of Sommeliers, a national community for sommeliers looking to forward their knowledge and skills in the beverage service arena, provides invaluable study guides and review questions within the “Learn” section of their website, www.guildsomm.com, that students in our programs find very beneficial. The Court of Master Sommeliers supplies every first time Introductory Course & Examination registrant with a complimentary 1-year subscription to the Guild of Sommeliers.

What attire is required for the Introductory Course & Examination?

Attire for the Introductory is smart or upscale casual; jackets and ties are not required. No tank tops, shorts or jeans, please. We advise against wearing perfume, cologne, scented lotions, or similar products as this can disrupt you or others while tasting wines.

Can I get a list of the wines that were poured at the program?

It is the policy of the Court of Master Sommeliers that we do not provide the list of wines poured at any of our programs. The wines that are selected are wines that represent a region or a characteristic well. It is the representation we want you to understand. For example, you should understand that wine “x” represented a region because of “y” and “z” and that wine “a” produced more oak than wine “b” due to a specific reason – all cause and effect. By not providing the list we encourage you to engage in the cause and effect and learn varietal profiles yourself.

How does the waitlist work?

We allow up to 20 students on the waitlist. The amount of students that get in from the waitlist depends on cancellations. Typically, if students cancel it is at least 31 days prior to the program. If a seat becomes available, notification is sent via email.

 

Can I be enrolled in a program and on a waitlist?
Yes, you can be enrolled in a program and be on as many waitlists as you would like. Should a seat open up from the waitlist, and you accept the seat, we can transfer your payment over.

 

Is there a fee if I cancel from the waitlist or decline a seat when offered to me? No.

What is your cancellation policy?

Cancellation Policy
The following policy applies to the Introductory Course & Examination, Certified Examination, and the Deductive Tasting Method Workshop.

  • Cancellation notification must be submitted in writing and emailed to klewis@mastersommeliers.org.
  • Cancellation Fees:
    • 
45 days or more: $50.00

    • 31-44 days: 50% of the registration fee.

    • 30 days or less: 100% of the registration fee (no refund or transfer).
  • Cancellation due to an illness or medical emergency require a doctor’s note within 14 days of the program for refund consideration.
  • Cancellation due to personal reasons, work conflicts, etc will not receive a refund.
  • CMS is not responsible for cancellations that were emailed but never received.

What is your retake policy?

Applies to the Introductory Course & Examination only.
The Court of Master Sommeliers offers a discounted fee of $325 to retake the Introductory Course & Examination based upon the following criteria:
You must retake within a calendar year of your prior Introductory Course & Examination.
You must wait 90 days before retaking.
To receive this rate, please email kdomingos@mastersommeliers.org with the non-waitlisted program listed on our schedule that you would like to take.

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 the CMS allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Exam and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years; 5 years with a recommendation from a Master Sommelier who is directly mentoring you. After the elapsed time students are required to retake the Introductory Course & Exam in order to apply for the Certified Exam.

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.

Can I use the GI bill for your programs?

Our programs have been approved by the CA Department of Veteran Affairs. Please visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/licensing_certification.asp.

Do you offer accommodations?

No. Attendees are responsible for their own transportation and accommodation arrangements.

What is your electronic policy?

No electronics are allowed in the examination rooms. Attendees are NOT permitted to record the lectures.