For the current scandals plaguing the CMS –including charges of racism and sexual violence– please refer to this page:  Master Sommelier Scandals 

The press release from the Court of Master Sommeliers, dated July 17th, 2019:


In 2015, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas created the Advanced Application Process to better accommodate the growing demand for our Advanced programs. Since that time, the sheer number of applications has outpaced our ability to reasonably accommodate interested students and candidates. Therefore, our work has been to develop a procedure that will award the most prepared and most experienced students and candidates with a timely opportunity to take the Advanced programs.

To this end, the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas did three things. We developed an application that measured work and industry experience. Second, we solicited Master Sommelier recommendations. Third, we gauged general theory, tasting, and practical knowledge with an online Knowledge Survey. A committee of eight Master Sommeliers reviewed these applications each year, committing nearly 170 hours annually to the process.

We have re-evaluated and refined this process annually. For the 2020 Advanced programs, we are streamlining the application itself and setting a minimum work experience requirement. Any candidate meeting this requirement will be afforded an equal opportunity to demonstrate their preparedness for the Advanced Sommelier Course or the Advanced Sommelier Examination—regardless of who they might know, where they may have worked, or how many times they have applied. Our aim is to create a simpler process for our candidates that will ensure objectivity, transparency and ultimately fairness in the application process.

The eligibility requirements for the 2020 Advanced programs are:

Candidates must have passed the Certified Examination on or before October 1, 2019;

To apply for the ADVANCED COURSE, a candidate must have a minimum two years of restaurant experience in a service/sales position within seven years of the date the application is submitted. Current employment must be in the restaurant/hospitality or beverage industry;

To apply for the ADVANCED EXAMINATION, a candidate must have a minimum three years of restaurant experience in a service/sales position within seven years of the date the application is submitted. Current employment must be in the restaurant/hospitality or beverage industry. AND, a candidate must have taken the Advanced Sommelier Course by October 1, 2019.

Note: Any candidates who have taken either the Advanced Sommelier Course or the Advanced Sommelier Examination prior to 2020 are not required to meet the minimum work experience requirements provided their current employment is in the restaurant/hospitality or beverage industry.

All verification of employment qualifications will be completed through a third party, AccuSource. (www.accusource-online.com)

All candidates who meet these eligibility requirements may sign up to take the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment. The Sommelier Knowledge Assessment is a written assessment conducted in-person that is designed to measure a candidate’s aptitude in all three areas of our curriculum: theory, tasting, and practical. The Sommelier Knowledge Assessment expands on the concept of the online Knowledge Survey used in previous applications, while providing a clearer picture of a candidate’s preparedness in a much more secure setting. Like the Knowledge Survey, the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment is composed of a timed, randomized set of questions.

With nearly 1,000 candidates applying each year for our Advanced programs, it became necessary to employ dedicated assessment professionals to manage this growth in a secure setting with minimal impact to you. The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, has therefore partnered with Pearson VUE, the industry leader in test delivery, to administer the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment. After the Court’s application is processed and eligibility is verified, candidates must sign up to take the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment at any of the 5,300 Pearson VUE Testing Centers (https://home.pearsonvue.com/) worldwide, at an available time of their choosing during the designated window between November 27, 2019 and December 20, 2019. We highly recommend candidates book with Pearson VUE by December 5th. Additional details will follow.

Acceptance into either the Advanced Sommelier Course or the Advanced Sommelier Exam will be solely determined by your score on the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment. The top-scoring 150 candidates who applied for the Advanced Sommelier Course will be accepted to participate in the program. The top-scoring 216 candidates that applied for the Advanced Sommelier Examination will qualify to sit in one of the three 2020 examinations. These figures correspond to the number of candidates we are able to accommodate at our Advanced programs in 2020. We will also maintain a waitlist for both Advanced programs.

All applicants will be informed of their overall percentile ranking in the Sommelier Knowledge Assessment to ensure transparency and to give perspective to your efforts.

The Advanced Sommelier Programming Application will be available October 1, 2019 through November 13, 2019; no late applications will be accepted. Please visit the website for programming dates and locations, which will post when available.

Everything that you are currently doing to prepare for our Advanced programs (study groups, seeking mentorship, participation in sommelier competitions and wine events, travel to wine regions, etc.) is important and is encouraged. The Advanced Examination presupposes these experiences as they have proven to assist candidates in their preparation for upper level programs.

These revisions will create a more fair and transparent Advanced Application Process. Our ultimate objectives are to 1) give all candidates a fair chance to demonstrate their preparedness; 2) afford those candidates who are most prepared opportunities to participate in a timely fashion.

Court of Master Sommeliers Bans Everyone Except Restaurant and Beverage Employees
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