As interest in fine wines continues to grow in our culture, so have the demands for professionally trained sommeliers. A sommelier is a wine steward with expert knowledge about a variety of wines, the foods they pair best with, serving wine and different vintages.
Various sommelier schools offer accreditation and sommelier certification programs for wine-lovers who are looking to pursue a career in the field.
The Court of the Master Sommeliers
The Court of the Master Sommeliers is a United Kingdom-based organization dedicated to improving the understanding of fine beverages and service. As one of the world”s most respected organizations offering sommelier accreditation, the Court of the Master Sommeliers bestows one of the most coveted sommelier certifications, the Master Sommelier.
The different certification levels at the Court of the Master Sommeliers are:
- Introductory Course and Exam: This course”s materials will give a student an understanding of spirits, beers, wines and cigars from around the world. The cost of the class is about $500.
- Certified Exam: This is a three-part test that includes a written portion, a blind taste test and a service exam. Those who pass the test become a Certified Sommelier. The cost of the exam is roughly $300.
- Advanced Sommelier Course and Exam: To take this course and exam, you must have a minimum of five years” experience in the “wine/service” industry and must have passed the Introductory Sommelier Exam and the Certified Sommelier Exam. The Advanced Course delves into the industry in more depth. The cost of this course is roughly $900.
- Master Sommelier Diploma: This test is only available by invitation and costs $800. In 1969, the Court of Master Sommeliers had its first successful Master Sommelier test in England. The United States Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers opened in 1977. To date, fewer than 200 people worldwide are certified Master Sommeliers.
The International Sommelier Guild
The International Sommelier Guild is another well- respected sommelier school located in the United States, Canada and China. The sommelier accreditation runs as follows:
- Wine Fundamentals 1: This class covers the basics of wine, terminology, food pairings and service.
- Wine Fundamentals 2: Students learn about topics (such as appellation laws and viticulture) while building on topics learned in Wine Fundamentals 1. Students will also start blind testing.
- Sommelier Diploma Program: This is a more intensive program to develop professional sommeliers. The test for the Diploma has six sections, including essays.
- International Grand Sommelier Master”s Degree: This final program is a comprehensive study that ends with a five-part, 12? hour exam. It can take up to seven years to complete this course.
Other Sommelier Certification Programs
Other Sommelier accreditation programs include:
- American Sommelier Association: The American Sommelier Association offers a series of courses that can result in a Sommelier Certificate. Topics covered include vinticulture and vinification, as well as blind tasting.
- United States Sommelier Association: The U.S. Sommelier Association offers a Sommelier Certificate Course. Students can also take courses online.