Why doesn’t the CMS create a standard for Certified?

I sometimes feel like I’m studying for the Advance Theory Exam or the MS Theory exam, when I’m really just preparing for the Certified.  

Anyone know why the the CMS created an Intro course (and every test question comes from the text) and not one for Certified?  I’m sitting here doing my daily reading from the World Atlas of Wine (7th edition - which is currently out of date) and wishing it dug deeper into Piedmont.  Only three sentences on Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti and Barbera del Monferrato - surely I need to know more than that... 

Sorry if I sound gripe-y, but the Recommended Study Resources have disappeared from the CMS website. 

Tips, tricks and advice is more than welcome.



  • I agree, I remember when I took the CS level, I was supersized by the somewhat vague or "unfocused" answers I would get when trying to find what I would be tested on. The truth of the matter is that the Certified test questions can be in theory drawn from a massive pool of information. I know people who have then 3 or 4 shots at the test before passing who are extremely knowledgeable, I got lucky and passed on my first go because just by the luck of the draw I got questions on regions and producers I knew. No one can really be fully prepared the first time they take the test for any question that could be asked. I recommend focusing on your tableside service Champagne service  seems to be the most likely draw. Practice your blind tastings, focus on single varietal wines from France and US, along with the major regions of Italy, Spain etc. As for the test questions study Bordeaux in depth, know all the chateaus of the 1855 classification and what parts of Bordeaux they are in. Study Burgundy, Know the Grand Crus and be able to pick them out on a map. Study the USA, be able to pick out the sub apps of Napa and major apps of OR and Wash state. I was shocked how many question there where on producers who arnt household names, you can drive yourself mad trying to learn it all. Remember you dont get a special pin for passing the first time, you can learn alot about waht you need work on by taking the test even if you dont pass. Good Luck..

  • What else is there to say about the Barberas? Point to them on a map, know what Barbera tastes like/what foods to pair, and know who produces the best (probably going to be the same wineries that produce the best nebbiolos). These are important wines in the market, sure, but are not highbrow enough to demand the study time that Barolo and Barbaresco do. There's a reason why Hugh and Jancis didn't go into minute detail on them. 

    That said, the CMS gave you a pretty darn good outline for Certified knowledge already. The Intro Workbook goes deeper than Intro questions (for example: check out that bullet point on Best Producers that's probably blank at the bottom of most pages...wasn't completely necessary for intro, but totally is for certified). Use this workbook as your guide, then dig into multipe sources to fill in the outline. Guildsomm, World Atlas of Wine, and Wine Bible should be sufficient to do so. 

  • Hi Christine, have a look on the Oceania website, there is a syllabus for intro/cert/advanced. It might be handy, it was for me at least.


  • The study guides on this site go way more in depth than the Atlas; which you are unfortunately very right about being out of date - GuildSomm changes the guides as new laws and regions arise.

  • One of the most important things you can learn is that you are not studying to prepare for an exam. You are studying to become a stronger, more knowledgeable, and more valuable hospitality professional. The lack of syllabus and the mystery of what you might need to know is part of what drives you to elevate yourself to an even further height than you might actually need to. In addition, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses so the exams tend to have a lot of breadth. I would suggest making sure that you have what you consider a fairly solid understanding of most topics in the beverage alcohol world. From my experience in the Court if a question is asked, its always of importance or critical to understanding in some way. If you come across a question that you miss or are unfamiliar with, try to figure out why it was important or what you may have skipped over too quickly that caused you to not retain the information. 

  • Best advice I ever got about CMS exams is study for the test above the one you're taking.