Level 4

Master Sommelier Diploma Examination

Please read the following which details the structure, pricing and application systems for the Master Sommelier Examination. Note that the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas and EU chapters have different policies for applying to Advanced and Master's exams. Please read our Site Policy for more information.

All candidates wishing to submit intent for the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination must complete the application intent; emails stating intent will not be accepted.

Application deadline for the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination-Theory is 5pm PST November 27, 2015

Application of intent deadline for Tasting and Service Examination is January 15, 2016

Examination Site Policy


Master Sommelier Diploma Examination - Theory Only

The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas will offer the same Theory examination simultaneously in three locations. Date: March 7, 2016

  • Atlanta, GA : Ritz Carlton Buckhead
  • Dallas, TX : The Four Seasons Resort
  • San Francisco, CA : Hotel Zelos

Cost: $795 USD Attendance:

  • MANDATORY for ALL candidates who
    • Are sitting for the first time
    • Have sat in the past but have reset and hold no portions
  • Candidates will be asked to state venue preference
    • Priority is weighted on the geographical location of the candidate, but not guaranteed

For candidates who pass theory-only examination:

  • Candidates are then invited to apply for the Practical and Tasting Portions in May
  • Candidates who opt not to sit for either Practical or Tasting in May 2016 have two more attempts (one per calendar year) to pass Practical and Tasting by the end of 2018

To submit an Application of Intent:

  • DEADLINE to submit application of intent is 5pm PST on November 27, 2015
  • Full payment will be due upon receipt of status
  • This portion is an oral examination administered exactly as it has been in years past
  • There is NO PENALTY for declining this invitation to the Master Sommeliers Theory Examination

**Candidates who are unable to pass the Theory Only portion in three successive attempts will be required to take a one year hiatus from sitting the examination.

Master Sommelier Diploma Examination - Tasting and Practical Service

Date: May 15-18, 2016 Location: Aspen, CO : The Little Nell Cost: Tasting Examination $795 / Service Examination $795 / Tasting & Service Examination $1500 (all prices in USD)

  • MANDATORY for ALL candidates “on the clock”/holding parts
  • Tasting and Practical will be offered
  • Candidates requiring Tasting and/or Practical portions who are unable to attend in May due to medical reasons will be afforded a one year extension, but must provide a physician’s note

To submit an Application of Intent:

  • Application of intent for those candidates who are holding any portion(s)
  • DEADLINE to submit application of intent is 5pm PST on January 15, 2016
  • Full payment is due upon confirmation of acceptance

More about the Master Sommelier Examination

The Master Sommelier Diploma Examination is similar in format and content to that of the Advanced Sommelier Examination in that it consists of three parts: a theory examination (an oral examination and not written), a blind tasting of six wines, and a practical wine service examination. The minimum passing score for each of the three sections is 75% as opposed to 60% for the Advanced Examination. Students must first pass the Master Sommelier THEORY Examination and then have three consecutive years to pass the remaining two parts of the examination. Thus a student who passes one or two parts may retake those he or she failed in during the next two years. If all three parts are not passed during a three year period the entire exam must be retaken. Members of the examining panel are Master Sommeliers chosen by the Examinations Committee and the Director of Education. The candidate is required to wear professional working attire and to also provide all tools of the sommelier trade for the examination. The candidate should exhibit a high standard of both technical and social skills throughout the examination, and demonstrate the courtesy and charm of a Master Sommelier. It is also essential that the candidate demonstrate excellent salesmanship.

Who can take the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination?

Students who pass the Advanced Exam (on the average about 25%-30%) are eligible to apply to take the Master Sommelier Examination itself. The pass rate for the Master Sommelier THEORY Examination is approximately 10%.

Elements of the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination

Part 1. Theory: what does the Sommelier need to know?

The theory examination is verbal and is fifty minutes in length.

  • Speak with authority on the wine areas of the world and their products.
  • Know the principal grape varieties used in winemaking and the areas of the world where they are cultivated.
  • Answer questions on international wine laws, including the European Community, United States, Australia and other global wine regions.
  • Display knowledge of fortified wines, their vinification, storage and handling.
  • Describe the various methods of distillation and the making of spirits and liqueurs, as well as the process of making beers and ciders and the reasons for the variations in style between different products.
  • Knowledge of cigar production, with special reference to Havanas, will be required.
  • Discuss how the products should be properly stored to ensure that they remain in the optimum condition.

Part 2. Practical Restaurant Wine Service and Salesmanship

  • Discuss, recommend and serve aperitifs, displaying a thorough knowledge of their ingredients and production methods as well as the ability to serve them correctly.
  • Select, prepare and position glassware necessary for the service of all beverages in the lounge, restaurant, or private function room.
  • Discuss menu content and wine list, recommending wines to accompany a wide range of foods; displaying a sound knowledge of the products, their vintages and characteristics.
  • Present, offer, prepare, (decanting when necessary) and serve wines, demonstrating a high degree of efficiency and proficiency.
  • Present, offer, prepare and serve brandies, liqueurs and other spirits, including knowledge of the proper serving portions for each.
  • Handle questions and complaints with skill, elegance and diplomacy.

Part 3. Practical Tasting

The tasting examination is scored on the candidate's verbal abilities to clearly and accurately describe six different wines. Within twenty-five minutes he or she must:

  • Identify, where appropriate, grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintages of the wines tasted.


Scholarship Info

Scholarships are available for this level. Please visit The Guild of Master Sommeliers website for more information.