Introductory Course & Examination

Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination

The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has a four-level education and examination program, beginning with the Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination.

The Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination, offered in-person and online, introduces students to the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Court of Master Sommeliers Tasting Method, the Court of Master Sommeliers Service Standards, and is taught exclusively by Master Sommeliers.

Students attending the two-day in-person course should come prepared with theoretical knowledge of the world of wine and beverages and what is expected of a sommelier working in the hospitality sector.


  • 2024 In-Person Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination: $839

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Who Should Attend This Class

Registration for the in-person Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination is open to anyone 21 or over in the hospitality, wholesale, and retail sectors of the food and beverage industry, anyone considering a career as a professional sommelier, or anyone interested in learning more about wine.

Please see the Examination Site Policy that defines where a student may sit depending on geographic location and exam history.


In-Person Course & Exam

  • A student’s success in the in-person Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination will depend on a combination of career experience and level of preparation.
  • It is expected that students come prepared having reviewed and studied the topics covered in the Introductory workbook. Upon enrollment, students receive access to download the Introductory workbook.
  • In preparation, prior to enrollment, it's recommended that students acquire a general guide to wine to learn about the major wine producing countries and regions. The basic points of beer and spirits production should be covered as well.  Review the Introductory Recommended Study Resources for book recommendations.

In-Person Course and Exam Details

  • The Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination takes place from 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM over two days. The exam takes place at approx 4:00 PM on day two, followed by a results and sparkling wine reception.
  • The course is intense and fast-paced - covering a lot of information, and by no means all, about the world of wine and other beverages, several tasting exercises, and elements of wine service.
  • The examination consists of 70 multiple-choice questions reflecting the content of the course and workbook and must be completed within 45 minutes. A minimum score of 60% is required to earn the Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination certificate and lapel pin.
  • After passing the Introductory Sommelier Course Examination, students are eligible to sit the Certified Sommelier Examination (Theory, Tasting and Service).
  • The CMS-A no longer requires that students take the Certified Sommelier Examination within three years of the Introductory Sommelier Examination. We encourage students to move to the next level when best prepared.

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

  • Received intensive instruction from a team of Master Sommeliers
  • Received an overview of all the major wine growing regions of the world, as well as key information on spirits, beer, saké and correct wine service
  • Passed the Introductory Sommelier Examination
  • Are capable of discussing and serving with confidence a comprehensive range of beverages
  • Learned the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method (DTM). The DTM is an integral part of the Certified, Advanced and Master Sommelier Diploma Examinations.
  • Skills acquired during the Introductory Sommelier Course will enable Sommeliers to recognize wine quality at a basic level
  • Received appropriate direction in preparing for the Certified Exam, which is the prerequisite for undertaking study for the Advanced and Master Sommelier levels.



Introductory Course Recommended Study Resources

CMS Professional Sommelier Demeanor


CMS-A Introductory Course and Exam Scholarship:  The CMS-A is firmly dedicated to creating and providing educational & advancement opportunities to individuals seeking to enhance their beverage knowledge that may be experiencing financial hardship or encountering barriers to wine education.  The CMS-A is awarding 100 scholarships in 2024 for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, individuals identifying as Women, and individuals experiencing financial hardship in the US and Internationally for the in-person or online Introductory Sommelier Course and Exam.

The Q1-2024 application period opened January 1, 2024 at 12:00PM PST and will close February 29, 2024 at 11:59 PM PST. This scholarship is open to any student, restaurant, hospitality, and individuals in beverage education professional who are in financial need. The scholarship may be applied to any future in-person or online CMS-A Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination for the period of April 1, 2024 to September 30, 2024. Applications for those currently enrolled in the Course, or for those who have completed the Course within the past 3 years will not be eligible.

Applicants must be 21+ years of age and awarded recipients opting for the online portion must be able to provide a valid **U.S. shipping address suitable for receiving alcoholic beverages related to the tasting portion of the programming. 

The selection committee comprises members from the CMS-A Diversity Committee, wine professionals, and D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) experts. Committee members will assess applications blindly*, without knowledge of any identifying characteristics of applicants (Name, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or race). Each application will be assessed based on the merit of responses and applicant's financial need. Scholarship recipients will be selected on a quarterly basis, with this round of recipients being notified by the end of March 2024. Individuals that do not receive a scholarship may re-submit an application during future application periods.

For additional information and to submit an application please go to

SommFoundation: SommFoundation offers scholarship opportunities to those working toward success with the Court of Master Sommeliers. They offer scholarships for the Advanced and Master Sommelier levels, and the Mel Dick Scholarship for the top scorer at the Certified Sommelier Exam. Currently, they do not provide scholarships for the Introductory Sommelier Course or Deductive Tasting Workshop, however we recommend reviewing scholarship availability for any changes. Please visit their website at for more information.

Aloha Wine Foundation: The Aloha Wine foundation will be awarding 3 scholarships of $500 to aspiring sommeliers towards their wine certification examinations. The application window will close at the end of August. Scholarship money can be used towards any official wine course / exam such as WSET, Society of Wine Educators, Court of Master Sommeliers. Proof of taking the course or exam. To submit an application go to For more information on the Aloha Foundation please visit

Frequently Asked Questions: 

How does the waitlist work?

The amount of students that get in from the waitlist depends on cancellations. Typically, if students cancel it is at least 30 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?

What is your retake policy?

Students who score less than 60% are eligible to retake the Introductory Sommelier Examination online for a fee of $125. Students must wait at least 14 days from their last attempt before retaking. To register to retake, contact

What attire is required for the Introductory Course & Examination?

Please refer to the CMS-A Dress Guidelines on the resources page at

What is your electronic policy?

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

Can the workbook be mailed?

We do not mail the workbook. Students may purchase a physical copy of the workbook to receive prior to enrollment through Amazon at Note: purchasing through Amazon is optional, the workbook cost will not be deducted from the enrollment fee.

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 I use the GI bill?

Our programs have been approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Please visit for more information.

Do you offer hotel accommodations?

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

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 CMS-A no longer requires that students take the Certified Sommelier Examination within three years of the Introductory Sommelier Examination. We encourage students to move to the next level when best prepared.

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.