Learning about wine and wine…

Learning about wine and wine service is not only fun and interesting, but it requires lot of patience and determination too. Wine is something which you will never know enough.

It’s a lifelong study and an affair which needs to be cherished.

It’s one of the most promising career tracks in the growing wine industry. Successfully certified sommeliers go on to become beverage directors, wine directors, consultants, resident sommeliers, professors, and more. The sky’s the limit.

There are a few different ways to go about getting a professional wine certification and learning how to become a sommelier 

First, we’ll focus on the wine education and sommelier classes offered by the four primary wine professional certification bodies. If you want nationally-recognized certification, you have to go through them and their coursework.

Then we’ll list some great supplemental online sommelier courses.

Sommelier Classes & Training

There are four certifying organizations that are highly regarded by hiring managers within the wine business. They’re essentially sommelier schools, though only two of them use the word sommelier. They are, in no particular order: 

  • Court of Master Sommeliers
  • International Sommelier Guild
  • Institute of Masters of Wine
  • Wine and Spirit Education Trust

Each organization offers education in preparation for its certifications

Court of Master Sommeliers Classes

The Court of Master Sommeliers offers three sommelier classes (four certification levels, i.e. exams, but three educational opportunities) and is often considered the preeminent sommelier school and training program. Two are associated with a sommelier certification level and one is an elective. None of the classes can be taken online. They must all be taken at set times and locations around the country. And participants must sign up well in advance.


A two-day, in-person overview of all the major wine growing regions in the world. As well as related information on spirits, beer, and proper wine service. According to the Court of Master Sommeliers website, the course covers:

  • A review of wine and beverage theory knowledge
  • An introduction to the Deductive Tasting Method
  • Wine service etiquette, from the basics of the standard 5-ounce wine pour to the how to decant wine a $1,000 bottle

The course culminates in a multiple-choice exam and can’t be taken separately from it. It’s an entry level course, though, and if you’re just starting your sommelier journey, look into this course.

B) Deductive tasting Method Workshop

This intensive one-day, in-person workshop isn’t required for any certification, though completion of the introductory course is required. It covers:

  • The Deductive Tasting Method using grape varieties that will be on the Certified Sommelier (2nd level) examination.
  • The link between wine theory and wine tasting

C) Advanced Sommelier Course

This is the sommelier class associated with the Advanced Sommelier (3rd level) certification. It’s a three-day, in-person exploration of:

  • Wine theory
  • Wine tasting
  • Wine service standards

This course, unlike the introductory course, can be taken independently from the associated exam. The requirement is having completed the Certified Sommelier course and examination. After successfully completing this course, students can sit for the three-day Advanced Sommelier exam

International Sommelier Guild

This is the other organization of the four that uses the word sommelier in their classes and training. They offer four relevant certificates with associated sommelier training:

  1. Intermediate Wine Certificate (IWC)

This broad, foundational course consists of eight sessions which clock in at about 24 hours total study time. It’s available both online and in a classroom environment. It covers:

  • Prevalent grapes used in the wine industry
  • Wine tasting terms
  • Wine evaluation and assessment
  • Label information and service standards
  • Food and wine pairing theories
  • Wine geography and appellation concepts

The IWC is designed for those interested in beginning a hospitality career or those simply learning about their passion. A review and exam are given after the eight classes are completed.

  1. Advanced Wine Certificate (AWC)

The AWC consists of 16 sessions which totals 48 hours of study time and is available online or in a classroom setting. It covers:

  • Old And new world wine regions
  • Sparkling and fortified wines, spirits and ales
  • Blind tasting skills
  • Wine and food pairing techniques
  • Wine storage
  • Wine management and bar inventory systems

A five-hour exam concludes the certification. Successful completion of it gives you  membership to the International Sommelier Guild.

  1. International Sommelier Guild Member Degree (ISGM)

The ISGM Sommelier Degree is an intensive 30-session course over roughly 360 hours. Its available online or in a classroom setting and covers:

  • Viticulture and Vinification
  • Tasting techniques and regional analysis
  • Investment strategy
  • Wine program management 
  • Menu Engineering

Pursuit of the ISGM degree is only available to those who have completed the AWC course. To be awarded the degree, candidates must pass a six-component exam and submit a dissertation.