Wine Certifications: CMS vs WSET

Are you looking to further your wine education, but not sure where to start? Should you go with the Court of Master Sommelier (CMS) program or the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)? I’m here to shed some light on the topic and help you make the right decision for you! I have taken CMS level one and WSET level 1 and 2 (with distinction). I’ll start by saying, both are great programs and both are great ways to get into the wine world! However, there are quite a few crucial differences between the two!

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  • Let me start my saying CMS level 1 course is MUCH harder and complex than WSET level`1 course! With my experience, the CMS level 1 course was equal to if not even a bit harder with more information than the WSET 2 course.

  • CMS course spends more time on the hospitality side of wine. Teaching you the proper way to open still and sparkling wine as well as serving wine.

  • CMS is organized by region and WSET is organized by varietal. Personally, I found the format of the WSET program much more organized and easier to follow along.

  • If you don’t know much about wine and are looking to learn the basics, I would recommend WSET level 1 course. If you already have a pretty steady base knowledge of wine and some experience working with wine, then I would recommend CMS level 1 or WSET level 2.

  • What type of career are you trying to build in the wine world? Are you looking to be a floor sommelier at restaurant? I would highly recommend the CMS programs. After you complete CMS level 2, you are officially a certified sommelier. Are you looking to work in sales or the retail side of wine? I would recommend the WSET courses. ** One important note- the term “certified sommelier” comes from the CMS courses only.

  • Lastly, know that the CMS level 2 course (to become a certified sommelier) is a 3 part exam including theory, service and blind tasing.

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Hope this is helpful! Happy to answer any questions! Leave a comment or shoot me an email. Cheers!! xoxo Cas