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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.