The world’s most successful sommeliers take and pass the rigorous master sommelier diploma examination from the court of master sommeliers. The master sommelier exam consists of three sections and has a success rate just under 10 percent.
The first is a theory section. This consists of a 50-minute verbal examination in which the candidate is expected to speak intelligently about many aspects of wine and spirits. The candidate should know about grape varieties, where they are grown, and what wine is made with them. Candidates must also know about international wine laws.
After passing the theory part of the examination, the candidate has three years to pass the practical restaurant wine service and salesmanship part, as well as the final tasting part. In the practical restaurant exam, the sommelier must select and place glassware, discuss a menu and wine pairing, and serve wine and spirits.
The tasting is a blind taste test in which candidates are given 25 minutes to evaluate six wines. The candidate should be able to identify the varieties of grapes used, the country of origin, and the vintage of the wine.