A sommelier (/ˈsɒməljeɪ/ or /sʌməlˈjeɪ/; French pronunciation: ​[sɔməlje]), or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.

There are three national wine certification programs in the United States, and five regional ones. Each has it’s own set of nomenclature and exam criteria. However, all wine certifications conform to five levels of achievement which are listed below.

You can take both Court of Master Sommeliers and WSET classes in the U.S. If you go through the entire Court program and pass, you become a Master Sommelier (MS). For WSET, if you pass the Diploma level, you can work towards a Master of Wine (MW). These top levels take years to achieve.

Other than trademarks and logos, there is no difference in between the certifications of Court of Master Sommeliers, the North American Sommelier Association, or any other certification agency. It’s all the same type of professional certification. Think of it like a four year degree: you can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree at thousands of colleges. It doesn’t really matter which accreditation body approved the diploma, as long as it’s legal.

Here are the different levels of the Sommelier Certification:
  • Level 1 Introductory Sommelier Certificate L1
  • Level 2 Certified Sommelier L2-L3
  • Level 3 Advanced Sommelier L4
  • Level 4 Master Sommelier Diploma L5

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