How To Become A Master Sommelier

master sommelier with wine

To become a master sommelier, you must complete an apprenticeship program and practice for the certification examination by the International Society of Professional Sommeliers (ISSP) within three months. Steps to become a master sommelier are straightforward. However, just because you know how to pour a glass of wine correctly or know how to pick out a great red or white wine doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to be certified as a sommelier. Becoming a professional sommelier requires much more than simply having a good sense of taste.

Attend classes

The first step of how to become a master sommelier is to get yourself enrolled in formal training or diploma course that teaches you the various aspects of wine tasting and wine pairing. You will be taught how to smell, and how to evaluate various qualities in the wine. You’ll learn how to properly sip different wines, and how to combine various drinks like cocktails and wines with food. Some of the basic requirements are to have at least 3 years of working experience in either the field of hospitality or in the related field of food and beverage management. Be prepared to submit proof of your work experience to your prospective institute or school.

Master Tips on Wine Tasting

During your studies, you’ll learn about the different kinds of wines and how to make them correctly. This includes such basics as to how to smell and evaluate the different aromas and flavors that come with different types of wines, and how to pair them appropriately. The institute or school you choose should also offer courses and lectures on food and beverage management, as well as practical demonstrations using authentic dishes and cocktails that you can try. You’ll be expected to perform these duties under the direction of professional master sommeliers, and you’ll be expected to bring in your recipes to test out in class.

Certified Sommeliers examinations

To become a certified sommelier, you must pass a series of exams that cover everything from anatomy and physiology to business ethics and wine history. These exams are known as the International Masters in Sommeliers (IMS) Examination and the International Masters in Hospitality Sommeliers (IMHS). There are two levels to these exams, with the first one being divided between those who’ve been trained in the United States and Europe and those who’ve been trained elsewhere. The certification takes about 2 years to complete, depending on which institute or school you’re attending.

master sommelier pouring wine

Introduction to Wine

There are actually four different parts to the examination, and candidates must study and prepare accordingly. The exam is divided roughly into three parts, with the first covering general information on the subject, the second looking at historic and contemporary developments in the field, and the last analyzing specific facets of the hospitality industry. Candidates who complete all three parts of the exam are recognized as having “passed” the introductory course and will be awarded their certificate. The certificate then permits the candidates to sit for the licensing examination, which consists of either a written or oral section.

Blind Tasting

To qualify for the blind tasting exam, candidates must first complete the basic training course, before they can even apply to the exam. During this course, candidates learn how to evaluate wines, along with other liquids such as cocktails and spirits. Candidates learn by doing, and much of the training includes practicing on the tastings conducted by professionals in the wine and beverage sector. Blind tasting exams also allow candidates to taste signature vodkas and other spirits, and to compare notes and experiences about the different types of drinks.

Parting words

Candidates who pass the examination are awarded a Master’s degree in the wine and beverage industry. At the end of their education, students must pass the final exam, given by an independent testing agency. Passing this exam earns you a certificate, which is necessary for all aspiring sommeliers to have to obtain their license. The certificate requires intensive study and takes up to four years to earn.

To pass the examination, students must learn to appreciate the role of sommeliers. They must know that the objective of the exam is to rate the ability of the candidate based on their knowledge and experience. They must also learn how to answer questions that deal with the history of the profession, as well as current practice. Those who earn their diploma will find that there are many job opportunities available within the profession. Jobs range from executive positions in hotels and restaurants to being an employee of a vineyard or winery.

Who is a Sommelier?

sommelier and selection of wine

A sommelier, (or wine steward), is a knowledgeable and trained wine expert, usually working in luxury fine dining establishments, who typically specialize in both wine and food pairing and all facets of wine service. The position of the sommelier in modern fine dining establishments is far more specialized and knowledgeable than that of a mere “wine waiter.”

While a wine waiter was an employee in a fine dining establishment, serving the guests, who were often experts in wines, sommeliers are hired based on their recommendation and experience in fine dining and have been for decades. Although sommeliers are expected to know very little about wines and their flavor profiles, they are often consulted in matters relating to their knowledge of wine pairing, and their ability to pick the perfect bottle.

Today, virtually all fine dining establishments employ a sommelier on staff. In some cases, sommeliers are actually part of the restaurant staff, and in other cases, the restaurant will hire a sommelier only when requested by a client. Typically, sommeliers are employed only in places where wine is more widely used, such as fine dining restaurants. In these establishments, sommeliers assist chefs and other food professionals with the selection of wines to be served at the table. However, today, they may also work in hotels and other dining establishments that do not offer a full-service fine dining experience.

Help with selection of wine

Generally, a sommelier is employed to guide patrons in matters relating to the selection of wines. The sommelier will usually have a full wine portfolio, which he will share with his patrons. The wine portfolio is often displayed on a wall inside the restaurant, and many of these establishments also have a separate section of the store where the sommelier work. These stores are great for patrons who are just getting started with wine because they can learn about the different varietals that are available and which ones are best paired with certain dishes. While it is important for new patrons to have an idea of the various kinds of wines that are available, it is equally important for experienced wine connoisseurs to keep their portfolios updated with the latest selections.

Be wine waiter

Another position that a sommelier can hold is that of wine waiter. Wine waiters are typically the servers who serve wine to customers at tables in dining establishments. However, in most establishments, a sommelier will not be able to serve the guests themselves, as that task would be too much responsibility for a single person. However, if you prefer to be in charge of the serving, this could be a great opportunity for you to let your entrepreneurial side come out.

If you are interested in working in the kitchen at a fine dining restaurant, then you may have an opportunity to take on additional responsibilities once you become a sommelier. You may be required to work in the kitchen during business hours, as well, preparing food and cleaning up after customers. However, the majority of sommeliers work off-site from home. You will, however, still need to maintain your current level of sommelier knowledge, which means that you should continue to research the latest offerings in the world of fine wines. Your online wine education program can help you achieve both of these goals.

sommelier and selection of wine

Be wine steward

Some sommeliers choose to become wine stewards instead. A wine steward is responsible for providing information to guests who are visiting a vineyard or other type of winery. He or she passes along information such as specific pairings for certain varietals, as well as general information about the vineyard that he or she visits. The main duty of a wine steward is to meet the guests at the entrance of the vineyard, greet them, and pass along information that they may not be aware of otherwise.


If you want to run your own winery, then you may want to consider becoming a winemaker. Becoming a winemaker involves a lot more responsibility than serving basic appetizers at events. Winemakers must be experts on all facets of winemaking, including fermentation and maturation as well as tasting. Some winemakers work with a team of sommeliers, as they prepare the wine inventory that is distributed to different establishments. Many people that are interested in this career field start out as stockpot holders at local vineyards. As you learn more about wine and tasting, you will likely find your own calling and you can pursue it as a career.