Exploring Three Sommelier Certification Programs

Sommelier certifications help professionals and enthusiasts gain knowledge, skills, and recognition in the wine industry. Sommeliers must undergo rigorous training that combines theoretical and practical components. Here we’ll look at three sommelier certification programs and some of the controversy associated with one.

  1. Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)

Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers wine and spirit certification programs worldwide. There are four levels in the WSET program, starting with Foundation and ending with Diploma. The WSET Diploma is considered the highest level of wine education, and it is an internationally recognized qualification. The WSET program covers all aspects of wine, including tasting, wine production, and wine regions.

  1. The National Wine School (NWS)

The National Wine School (NWS) is a US-based wine education institution that offers several certification programs, including the Core Sommelier Program, Advanced Sommelier Certification, and Master in Wine certification. The NWS certification programs are designed to provide wine professionals with in-depth knowledge of wine regions, wine production, and wine service.

  1. Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)

CMS is a prestigious organization that offers four levels of sommelier certifications: Introductory Sommelier, Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier, and Master Sommelier. There are no higher standards in sommelier certification than the CMS program. The CMS program covers all aspects of wine, including wine regions, wine production, and wine service.

Controversies associated with the Court of Master Sommeliers

In recent years, the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) has faced several allegations of misconduct and discrimination. In October 2018, the CMS suspended its Master Sommelier exam after a cheating scandal was uncovered. The CMS revoked the titles of several Master Sommeliers who were found to have cheated on the exam.

In addition to the cheating scandal, the CMS has also faced allegations of discrimination. In September 2020, the CMS announced that it would be taking steps to address allegations of discrimination and create a more inclusive environment for all candidates. The CMS pledged to review its policies and procedures and ensure they are fair and equitable.


Sommelier certifications are essential for wine professionals and enthusiasts who want to advance their knowledge and skills. The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the National Wine School (NWS), and the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) are three of the most well-known sommelier certification programs. If you are considering pursuing a sommelier certification, it is essential to research each program thoroughly and choose the one that best fits your needs and goals. The website SOMM.US is a great resource for researching sommelier education. However, as with any industry, controversies can arise, and it is important to be aware of them as you make your decisions.