Master Programs – Sommelier training

Master Sommelier

Court of Master SommeliersA candidate must past three levels of examinations. The first level is the Introductory Sommelier Course. Next are the Advanced, and lastly, the Master Sommelier Diploma exams. When a candidate has successfully passed all three levels, he or she earns the Master Sommelier diploma and can be referred to as a Master Sommelier.

The Master Sommelier diploma is the highest distinction a professional can attain in fine wine and beverage service. Testing is focused on the areas needed for superior beverage department management, which include Tasting, Theory, Practical and Dining Room Application, and also encompasses spirits, beers, cigars as well as global wine knowledge. The Master of Wine program is designed to measure knowledge in a more academic form than the Master Sommelier.

The Master of Wine program is popular among négociants, writers, winemakers, and other members of the trade. It is not focused on beverage department management and service, nor does the curriculum include spirits, beer and cigars in the same way as the Master Sommelier program. The Court class is much more “hands on” and practical whereas the MW program is more theory.

There are currently 126 Master Sommeliers (2013) in the United States, 19 of whom are women.

Master of Wine

Institute of Masters of Wine

The first Master of Wine examinations were held in 1953, under the auspices of the‘Worshipful Company of Vintners’ and the ‘Wine and Spirits Association’, and 6 candidates achieved the standard required to become the first Masters of Wine. The Institute was established as an entity in 1955 and there are now 240 Masters of Wine who comprise its membership. For the first 30 years the annual examination was limited to UK ‘traders in wine’ (defined as importers, merchants and retailers) but in the 1980s the examination was opened to anyone earning their living in wine world-wide and the first non-UK MW succeeded in the examinations in 1987.

The Institute now has 240 members of 16 different nationalities, living in 16 countries throughout the world. Education seminars and examinations are held in 3 countries, the UK, the USA and Australia. 56 members live and work outside the UK, almost all of whom have become members in the last 12 years.

7 thoughts on “Master Programs – Sommelier training”

  1. I am interested in possibly pursuing a career as a sommelier and was curious of the cost, and also my recourse for pursuing the education in Kansas city. I am already le cordon bleu trained and have an average knowledge of tasting, terroir, some basic global liqour law knowledge.

    1. David – I’ll be running a Master Sommelier Intro course in June 2016, probably in St. Louis. The Master Sommelier website ( will have the info sometime in late January. Or you can reach out at if you have specific questions.

  2. Hello Mr. Frost,
    I am responsible for the marketing and events at the Van Till Winery . I am putting together a series called “New Beginnings” involving various speakers and am interested in knowing your requirements for such an event. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Robin Hawkins

  3. Doug, I so enjoyed our brief meeting and handshhake at the close of TEXSOM IWA on Tuesday afternoon. It’s a blessed coincidence for me that you were a judge at the panel I was serving, and I had the pleasure of eavesdropping on occasion to enjoy the banter of converstion batted about, particularly the Chardonnay judging story. I don’t recall the names of the players but that may be just as well, it’s a story I’ll enjoy retelling largely because you’re the story-teller, and for me that’s a story in itself. Cheers, hope our paths cross again.

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Wine consultant & writer, one of only four people in the world to hold both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine titles