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Dec 19, 2008 08:28 AM

US Sommelier wine courses, worth it?

I've been looking into it and wondering if these 'certificates' are respected or sneered at, as well as if these courses are worth making the effort. I thought this would be an enjoyable exercise in which to partake, but don't want to throw my money away for something more experienced professionals in the food and wine industry regarded as a garbage course dopes take. If anyone has particular alternate suggestions, please post as well.

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  1. I took mine with the Court of Master Sommeliers. This involved a lengthy period of extensive research and tasting, all of which is done on your own.
    The Introductory Course is two days of review and tasting, followed by a moderately thorough exam.
    The Certified Exam is a short written exam, a blind tasting of two wines and service evaluation.
    Since passing the exam, I've been given a great promotion. Since I'm still with the same establishment, I'm not postive how this achievement is viewed by other restaurants. It's been excellent for me personally so far.

    3 Replies
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      Many thanks for your reply. It looks like you took the golden child of sommelier courses. Can't seem to find much information on other programs. Was hoping to study somewhere closer to home. but two days isn't bad.

      1. re: Icantread

        In the industry, the Court of Master Sommeliers is definitely the most recognized and accepted certificate track. After that, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (Master of Wine), and Society of Wine Educators (CSW, CWE) are the most accepted courses of study, and are certainly not sneered upon. Those are the most common, and the most likely to help you get a job or promotion.

        1. re: Icantread

          As I've said in the past, were I just entering the wine business, instead of having retired from it -- and were serious about it as a career -- I'd definitely go for an M.W. or an M.S. degree . . . or both!

          The list of the Americans who have earner either a Master of Wine or a Master Sommelier degree reads like a "Who's Who" of the American wine trade . . . below a certain age! ;^)

      2. Court of Master Sommeliers is the most respected one and will get you the most bang for your buck professionally.

        Becoming a Master Sommelier under this program is an incredibly challenging and large task that will take several years and a very high degree of dedication. A certified Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers is a true achievement in the wine business and if this is your career choice it will help you greatly.

        Remember the number of Master Sommeliers in the world is measured in very small 3 digit numbers. There are less than 200 worldwide and I believe fewer than 100 in the US.

        Remember under this program the first level "Introductory Course" is just that an introduction. The first meaningful level is the Certified Sommelier Exam which is when it begins to matter professionally.

        If you love wine and intend to make it your career, this is really the best and most highly thought of option.

        1. The US Sommelier wine courses are some of the best constructed courses in the world and certainly in the USA. They work with the very top wine producers in the world. Included are names like (Italy) Il Borro-Ferragamo, Antinori, Gaja, Allegrini, Pieropan, Planeta, Fantineli, etc (France) Burgundy, Latour, Jadot, Drouhin, Leflaive, Chateau Fuisse, etc. - Bordeaux, DIVA Bordeaux and world network, (Germany) Christian Ress, Dr. Thanish, Muller-Catoir, etc. (Spain) Arco Group, Marquis de Grinon, Vega Sicilia, etc. (Argentina) Catena, etc. (Chile) Haras de Pirques, etc. (Uruguay) Juanico, etc. (Australia) Peter Lehmann, etc. (South Africa) Hamilton-Russell, Klein Constantia, et more world producers.

          It is the only certifying body located at a commercial winery in the United States. They are located at Wente Vineyards and Murrieta's Well Winery in Livermore the oldest privately owned family estate in American history. Instructors include Dr. Carole Meredith, Professor Emeritus UC DAVIS, and renowned genetic scientist, Karl Wente master winemaker, with master degrees from Stanford, UC Davis and making 90+ wines and Rick Garced, Distinguished Visiting Sommelier, Johnson & Wales University, Commandeur d'Honneur in Bordeaux, Terin and Bryan Ignozzi, wine owners of BryTer Wine Estate, certified California wine judge and more.

          These courses are offered in different parts of the United States and not just a testing for certification like many other organizations but we experienced a more college level type education at both the certificate and advanced levels. We look forward to the master courses that are going to be run in the US, Bordeaux and Italy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sommelerie

            Hi, sommelerie:

            Wow, thanks for the information. Do the courses teach pairing by requiring the applicants to actually taste wines with various foods? Do all the certifying authorities do this? I am wondering because I'd like to know how a working sommelier does pairings in his/her establishment.


          2. If you are studying for the CSW (or WSET, or ASA, or IWG, or ISG) or any wine certification, check out the free study tools (quizzes, flashcards, tons of into) at It's not my website, so I'm not trying to publicize myself or anything....just really good tools and info. I used the SWE Study Guide plus the flashcards on and passed with a 97 after three months of study. I'm in the wine sales industry, and the certification has helped me a lot (plus, my employer requires it...). Cheers, everyone! Stacy