Certified Sommelier Examination
The Certified Sommelier Examination was created for servers who seek service excellence but may not desire to be a dedicated sommelier or beverage director. This exam will recognize an individual who has shown proficiency in essential service skills; has a general understanding of wine, beer, spirits and cocktails; and has the ability to articulate that information on demand. The Court of Master Sommeliers considers it to be the minimum service standard for all wine and beverage professionals who work the floor of a restaurant.
2015 Certified Sommelier Examination: $325
2016 Certified Sommelier Examination: $395
What can the Certified Sommelier Examination Do for Me?
- Provides a professional credential to show current or potential employers their skills have been evaluated at a high level of proficiency by the world’s leading authority on service – The Court of Master Sommeliers.
- Sets a high minimum standard of the knowledge and service of wine for professionals in the Hospitality Industry.
- Provides the Director of Education and the Examination Committee of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas with information on the skill level and degree of preparation of candidates wishing to attempt the Advanced Sommelier Examination.
Who Can Take the Certified Sommelier Examination?
The Certified Sommelier Examination is open to all students who have successfully passed the Introductory Sommelier Examination in the past three (3) years or five (5) years with a Master Sommelier recommendation. Those who passed the Introductory Exam more than three (3) years or five (5) with a Master Sommelier recommendation will be required to re-take the Introductory Course & Exam at the reduced rate of $325. Please contact Kady at firstname.lastname@example.org to enroll.
What to Expect from the Certified Sommelier Examination
This is a one-day exam given in three segments. No lectures or tastings are provided. Candidates should come prepared and be appropriately dressed and equipped for professional wine service. The following are the three areas candidates will be tested Those who have successfully passed all three segments with a minimum 60% score will receive a certificate and a pin confirming they have been certified by the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
- Blind Tasting: The blind tasting examination utilizes the Master Sommelier Deductive Tasting Method using a written tasting grid. Candidates are given 15 minutes to evaluate two wines and fill out the grid. Examples of the grid and instructions can be downloaded, studied and practiced prior to taking the exam.
- Written Theory Examination: Covers fundamental questions about the world of wine, spirits, beer and service with emphasis on the world’s wine appellations and corresponding grape varieties. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete a 40 question written exam presented in multiple-choice, matching and short answer formats.
Service Practical: Candidates will be asked to demonstrate one of the following skills - Court of Master Sommeliers Service Standards
- Standard Wine Service
- Champagne Service
- Decanting Service
In addition to the practical demonstration, candidate’s knowledge of the following will be tested:
- Food and Wine pairing
- Cocktails and spirits of the world
- Aperitifs, digestives
- Fortified and Dessert Wines of the World
- Proper service temperature of wine and other beverages
- Ability to communicate and sell
Additional Information and Application
- Candidates have three years after passing the Introductory Sommelier Examination to take the Certified Examinamtion or the candidate must re-take the level one at the reduced rate of $325
- Candidates who are not successful in passing the Certified Sommelier Examination must wait 90 days before re-applying
- All students must successfully complete the Certification Sommelier Examination before applying for the Advanced Course and the Advanced Examination
Candidates who are not successful in passing Certified Examination must wait a minimum of 90 days before retaking examination; there is no reduced rate.
The highest scorer at the Certified Examination will receive the Walter Clore scholarship from the Guild of Sommeliers in the amount of $500. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The time CMS allows between passing the Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination and taking the Certified Sommelier Exam is 3 years; 5 years with a Masters recommendation.
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.
A corkscrew, pen, paper, and odorless lighter or matches. The rest will be provided for you.
The Certified Examination is a one-day exam with three segments: Theory, Tasting, and Service. There is no classroom work involved.
- The written theory examination will cover fundamental questions about the world of wine, spirits, beer and service with emphasis on the world’s wine appellations and corresponding grape varieties. The exam consists of forty questions presented in multiple choice, matching and short answer formats.
- The blind tasting examination utilizes the Certified Examination Tasting Grid. Students have 15 minutes to evaluate two wines (one red and one white) and fill out the tasting grid.
- The practical service examination will test one of the following skills: Standard Wine Service, Champagne Service or Decanting Service. Students will be evaluated on a variety of elements surrounding this skill as well as their knowledge of aperitifs, cocktails, food and wine pairing, proper service temperature of wine and beverages, and ability to communicate and sell.
Upon arrival there will be a quick meet & greet where you will receive your service exam time for the afternoon. After the greeting you will take the written theory portion of the exam and blind tasting examination. After the tasting/written examination, candidates are excused for lunch and are required to come back at their designated time for the service exam. At approximately 4:30 candidates will receive feedback and results. You should be done at about 5:30pm. Note: time and sequence may vary slightly.
We do not provide a workbook for the Certified Examination. Please see the recommended study resources above.
We often run a Certified Examination during the same week as the Introductory Course & Examination as it has proven to be cost effective. In some instances the Certified Examination is a day prior to the Introductory Course & Examination as we are targeting candidates who previously took and passed the Introductory examination and have had time to practice and prepare; however, this is not a rule. In other instances the Certified Examination is offered a day after the Introductory Course & Examination.
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.
We do not provide a wine list to students in the service exam. If recommendations are asked for, students are expected to provide specific wines with which they are familiar.