If you’re looking for a high-quality and well-regarded institute to complete your wine certification, the CMSA  should be at the top of your list. The original Court of Wine Master Sommeliers was established in 1969. This London-based institution is a leader in the industry for qualifying sommeliers. In 1998, the Court opened an outpost in the United States.

With their focus on education and service skills, anyone looking to climb the ranks as a Sommelier should consider completing this qualification. So, what exactly does the Court of Wine Masters offer?

Is the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) For You?

CMS is an excellent program. However, there are several other worthwhile programs to choose from. We offer comprehensive reviews of all the major wine programs available in the United States. To find your perfect fit for a wine degree, please check out the SOMM Wine Course review page. For the current scandals plaguing the CMS –including charges of racism and sexual violence– please refer to this page:  Master Sommelier Scandals While we understand many graduates of the Court are upset about our publicizing the problems at the court (and have done so years before the New York Times picked up the story) it is our obligation as the voice of the sommelier community to be honest and open. LIght is nature’s disinfectant, and we can’t hide from the problems we are facing today.

For those who are interested in sommelier schools that offer programs without the stain of sexism and racism, we have a list of the most diverse wine schools in America.

 Court of Master Sommelier Americas (CMSA)
Court of Master Sommelier Americas (CMSA)

Introductory Sommelier Certificate

This qualification is the first step in the Court of Master Sommelier program. This two-day wine course teaches the basics of viticulture, major grape varieties, wine regions, and an introduction to wine tasting.

The examination consists of 70 multiple-choice questions. To pass, a 60% pass rate is required. Upon successful completion, the student is awarded a certificate and lapel pin.

Certified Sommelier Examination

The next step toward becoming a Master Sommelier is completing the Certified Sommelier qualification. The exam has three sections. The student must achieve a 60% in each to pass. The first part is a 40-multiple-question examination, along with short answer questions. The second part consists of two blind tastings, and the third part consists of a practical service test.

Upon completion, candidates will receive a certification and lapel pin. With this qualification in hand, many students begin applying for positions as a sommelier in restaurants or hotels.

Advanced Sommelier Certificate

This 5-day course extensively covers wine theory and service skills. This course aims to teach individuals the correct service of wine to the highest proficiency; creation of wine lists and wine pairings with sound knowledge of vintages and styles; handling complaints; extensive selling skills; and the ability to identify a range of wines from international regions.

The first section of the examination consists of a theory paper of 24 multiple-choice questions and 60 short questions. The second section is a blind tasting of six wines and a 45-minute practical service test. To pass, a 60% grade in each section is required. Upon completion, the student is awarded an Advanced Sommelier certificate and lapel pin.

Master Sommelier Diploma

A Master Sommelier is one of the highest qualifications in the wine industry. If you have the drive to have the highest level of knowledge, this is the certification you should aim for. The examination format is similar to the Advanced Sommelier Certificate. However, a pass rate is 75% for each section.

The candidates are required to display not only technical and theory skills but must also showcase service and selling skills. Upon completion, you will earn the Master Sommelier diploma and lapel pin. You will also be permitted to use MS as part of your professional signature.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to work as a certified Sommelier or whether you want to be part of the few hundred Master Sommeliers of the world, the Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas (CMSA) is an institute that will help you gain the knowledge and qualifications you need.

Is the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) For You?

One thought on “Is the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) For You?

  • 6th May 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Regarding “Boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers?”

    As a gay male of color who is fairly liberal, a registered Democrat and a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion I can see how the criticisms and scandals enumerated here can trigger people no matter where they are on the spectrum politically. But I for one am not thinking about anything have to do with politics as I read these criticisms.

    Only one thing stands out for me, and that is that exam answers were given to a candidate who then blew the whistle on the CMS.

    Everyone — no matter their politics or background or gender or sexuality or whatever — should be demanding an investigation by an independent body to see if this was a one-off occurrence or a pattern and if the latter, if it is characteristic of the organization as a whole, historically. This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with not only the integrity and fairness but the skill and knowledge upon which the Court has built its reputation.

    All this political finger-pointing back and forth is not productive. Non-profits often support one party or the other as a quid pro quo and there is nothing wrong with that. To say that there is something inherently wrong with Republican board members of a non-profit that make donations to Republicans who support legislation favoring Republicans in the wine and spirits industry, who in turn employ sommeliers who then represent the industry as frontline sales experts shows some naïveté about American business and American politics.

    As an aside, I also want to point out that women speaking out against sexual harassment in the wine and spirits industry is not “wokeness” and they aren’t “libtards” if they want the same access to Master Sommelier mentors as their male counterparts who aren’t expected to provide sexual favors or debase themselves in exchange for access. More power to them for doing so but let’s not forget that men that objectify and disrespect women come from both ends of the political spectrum. The creepiest toxic straight males I ever worked for were staunch but sloppy drunk liberals.

    We can and should talk about demanding fairness in exams and respectful treatment of women without political mudslinging. Above all, if answers are changed or given in advance *routinely* to people, regardless of their gender or race, then that is a serious enough problem in itself, potentially big enough to eclipse the prestige and reputation of the CMS as a whole, at least in the US.


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