Becoming a Sommelier

by Elizabeth Cooper in Wine & Beer

cms-master-sommelier-logoI have, over the years, had many people ask, “Where did you learn about wine and beer?” My standard response is “I drink a lot….” But in all honesty, I personally have not attended any type of school or classes—my “wine education” is based on considerable amounts of self study, travel, tasting and work experience. However, one of the motivating forces that spurred this “self study” was taking the examinations from the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

These are comprehensive exams that cover all aspects of the sale and service of wine, beer and spirits. As I am writing this, two of our Southern Season Wine Managers, Kathlene Revie and Trent Caldwell, are sitting for their very first level of the CMS examination at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

The Introductory Examination is given over the course of two days. The first day is spent in a series of lectures covering all the major wine growing regions, as well as intermittently working on building your blind tasting skills. The second wraps up the lectures with additional blind tastings and a service demonstration. All of this leads up to the Introductory Examination. 

This is the first step on the road to becoming a Sommelier recognized by wine professionals. I can remember the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt when I first sat for this intro course back in 2003. I have since passed the Certified, Advanced and sat for, but not passed, the Masters Exam… three times.

Regardless of your experience level, these exams and lectures really work to motivate wine professionals to continue to learn, explore and hone their service and tasting skills—it simply helps you to want to be the best you can at your profession.  To explore the profession further check out these websites:;

UPDATE: I am happy to say, since penning this blog post, both Kathlene Revie and Trent Caldwell passed the Introductory Examination. Congratulations to you both!