Why Sommelier Certifications Matter

Posted by Keith Wallace

Table of Contents

Sommelier certifications are increasingly popular with both wine enthusiasts and professionals. Whether you are curious about wine education or looking to advance your wine career, sommelier certifications can be an intelligent choice: a comprehensive understanding of wine is both a pleasure and a job requirement.

This post explores what sommelier certifications are, the benefits of obtaining one, and how to get started on the journey.

Wine bottle, glass, certificate, abstract art.
Wine Certifications

What is a Sommelier?

First of all, let’s define the term “Sommelier.” Historically, a sommelier was trained in all aspects of restaurant wine service, from wine selection and service to wine pairing and staff education. This definition is outdated, however, since most sommeliers—and almost all master sommeliers—no longer work in restaurants.

In today’s world, sommeliers are experts in the wine field, knowledgeable about wine regions, grape varieties, wine production techniques, and wine history. They have a deep understanding of wine and winemaking and, most importantly, have the credentials to prove it.

In the wine trade, college degrees are often not required. Instead, wine certifications are sought after by employers. It is a way to demonstrate wine professionals’ skills and knowledge and provide a standard for wine education.

Sommelier Certifications are not Just for Restaurants Anymore.
Sommelier certifications are not just for restaurants anymore.

Sommelier Certifications

There are several sommelier certifications available, each with its requirements and curriculum. Some well-known certifications include the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and the National Wine School. Which sommelier certification is best? That depends on personal preferences. We recommend checking out reviews of different sommelier accreditation bodies before deciding. There are also several options for sommelier certification online.


A chief benefit of obtaining a sommelier certification is the recognition it provides. By becoming certified, you demonstrate to employers, customers, and peers that you have a high level of wine knowledge and expertise. This recognition can help you advance your career in the wine trade, and it can also increase your credibility as a wine educator.

Another benefit of obtaining your sommelier credentials is the depth of wine knowledge you will acquire. Sommelier certifications are comprehensive programs that cover all aspects of wine, from wine history and production techniques to wine pairing and service. Through the course of your certification, you will learn about wine regions, grape varieties, wine production techniques, and wine history. Tasting a wide range of wines is not only a program requirement; it is also a whole lot of fun.

Wine, book, and grape icon.


Beyond the knowledge and recognition that come with a sommelier certification, it’s really about the people. The connections you make during the certification process are often the most rewarding facet of wine school. Being in the same classroom with other motivated wine lovers? The chance to network and develop friendships with other wine professionals is a major benefit. These connections can lead to job opportunities, collaborations, and lifelong relationships in the wine trade.

Choosing Between Sommelier Certifications

So, how do you get started on the journey to becoming a certified sommelier? The first step is to research the different sommelier certifications available and determine which one is right for you. Consider your career goals and your personal interests in wine. Also, consider the time and financial commitment required for each certification program. Of the three top programs, both the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust still focus on the restaurant trade. We prefer the National Wine School due to its focus on higher-level wine careers. Also, there are long-standing allegations against the Court of Master Sommeliers that should be considered.

Once you have decided on a certification program, it is important to prepare yourself. Read books and articles about wine, attend wine tastings and events, and taste as many wines as possible. These experiences will help you build your palate and your wine knowledge, making you a stronger candidate for the certification program.

Enroll in Wine School

When you are ready to enroll in a sommelier certification program, be prepared for a rigorous and rewarding experience. The certification process typically consists of several stages, including classroom instruction, tastings, and exams. Be prepared to commit a significant amount of time and effort to the program, but know that the investment will pay off in the end. If you happen to live near Philadelphia, you can sign up for sommelier certifications in just a few minutes. We also offer an online wine school.

Online wine certification with laptop, certificate, and wine glass.
Online Wine Certifications

Online Wine Education Options

In today’s digital age, online wine education has become a popular and accessible option for aspiring sommeliers. Many reputable institutions offer comprehensive online programs that allow you to study at your own pace and from the comfort of your home. Online courses often include video lectures, interactive modules, and virtual tastings, providing a flexible yet thorough educational experience. This format is ideal for those with busy schedules or those who do not live near a wine school. By enrolling in an online wine education program, you can gain the same level of knowledge and certification as in-person courses, opening doors to various opportunities in the wine industry.

Sommelier certifications are a journey through the world of wine. They are an opportunity to deepen your knowledge, expand your palate, and advance your career in the wine trade. Whether you’re just starting your wine education or looking to take the next step in your career, sommelier certifications are a valuable investment in your future.

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