Introductory Course & Examination

Introductory Course & Examination

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

The Introductory Sommelier Course introduces candidates to the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method and the Court of Master Sommeliers Service Standards. The Introductory Course provides a fast paced review of Theory; candidate 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.

The Introductory Sommelier Course covers –

  • A review of wine and beverage theory knowledge
  • the Court of Master Sommeliers Deductive Tasting Method
  • Wine service etiquette using the Court of Master Sommeliers Service Standards.

Introductory Course & Examination Fee $595

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Pre-Qualification and Preparation

Acceptance into the Introductory Sommelier Course is easy and is open to all Hospitality Sector employees or anyone considering a career as a professional Sommelier.

Candidates must come prepared for success by engaging in some specific reading beforehand. Upon registration candidates are immediately sent a confirmation that includes a link to the digital copy of our Introductory Sommelier Course Workbook and a twelve months trial subscription to the Guild of Sommeliers portfolio of information - via their website

Course Details

The Introductory Sommelier Course requires two full days commitment. It’s intense and fast paced - covering a lot of information, and by no means all, about the world of wine and other beverages. Beginning at 8:00 am and finishing around 6:00 pm both days.

At the end of day two we will invite you to take a theory examination. The good news is that all questions are multiple choice reflecting the content of the preceding two days. The pass mark for this examination and to earn the CMS Introductory Sommelier Course Certificate and lapel pin is a strict minimum 60%.

After passing the Introductory Sommelier Course Examination, you are eligible to sit the Certified Sommelier Examinations (Theory, Tasting and Service).

Please note the following Court of Master Sommeliers Americas policy: Sommeliers holding an Introductory Sommelier Course credential have three years after passing the Introductory Examination to sit the Certified Sommelier Examinations. If this opportunity is not undertaken within the three-year window then the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination must be re-taken. There is a reduced rate of $495.00 should this situation arise. Pricing subject to change without notice.

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

  • Received intensive instruction over two days 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 written examination
  • Are capable of discussing and serving with confidence a comprehensive range of beverages
  • Learned the Court of Master Sommeliers ‘Deductive Tasting Method’ (DTM) from some of the best tasters in the world. 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 successfully preparing for the Certified Sommelier Examination which is the pre-requisite for undertaking study for the Advanced and Master Sommelier levels.



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, a multiple-choice exam of seventy questions is given followed by the results and sparkling wine reception.

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 beverage hospitality 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 in the Introductory workbook. Download the Introductory Course Recommended Study Resources at Upon enrollment, students receive access to download the Introductory workbook.

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,, 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
  • 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 $495 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 with the non-waitlisted program listed on our schedule that you would like to take. (Price subject to change without notice)

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 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.

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 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.

What are the accommodations for candidates with disabilities?

The Court of Master Sommeliers policy, in compliance with the American Disabilities Act, attempts to make accommodations to enable a candidate with a disability(s) to successfully take on of the programs. We attempt to make the exam accessible without lowering standard of the examination. Although we are able to accommodate many at the Introductory Course & Examination and Certified Examination, we are not always able to accommodate at the Advanced Course & Examination and Master Diploma Examination and we must maintain the standards of the examination and its accreditation.

Some of our accommodations include:

• More examination time (dyslexia, PTSD, and other similar disorders)

• Secluded room for written examination – when possible

• Allow an acceptable adaptation in order for the candidate to do service, e.g., a specialized tray

• Other items reviewed on a case by case basis

Candidate’s with disabilities should be prepared to submit proof of disability documenation.