Sommelier Society of America
The First Wine Education Organization

Sommelier Society of America FAQ

Sommelier Society of America Certificate Course FAQ, Frequently Asked Questions are answered here

Sommelier Certificate Course FAQ

About Us

The Sommelier Society of America SSA is the first professional wine organization in the US. In 1954, a group of New York City restaurant workers convened at the legendary 21 Club with the goal of educating each other about the influx of fine wines flooding the city from all over the world. Comprised of veteran wine waiters from the city’s top restaurants, they were the first American sommeliers with the expertise and fluency to guide diners through the increasingly complex wine lists.

The Sommelier Society of America offers two types of wine courses: A 21-week Certified Sommelier program twice a year, and a series of Advanced Tasting workshops.

The Certificate Course is a comprehensive and intensive study of oenology and the significant wine regions of the world. All classes are instructed by a team of experienced New York City industry professionals and sommeliers. Students passionate about wine will learn through dynamic lectures, handouts and flights of carefully selected wines for tasting.* Students benefit from a series of customized weekly on-line quizzes, geared at improving final exam performance.

Advanced Tasting Workshops are intensive blind-tasting exercises. No two Workshops are alike. All Workshops, focus on blind-tasting, by featuring newly selected grape varietals, producers, and regions, designed to expand wine knowledge, and palate.

Who Might Take Our Courses

Our mission is to provide the highest standard of excellence in wine education for those seeking to advance their careers, expand their wine knowledge and prime their palates, for wine enthusiasts who desire a career change.

Restaurant Owners, Managers, Wait-staff, Bartenders: The Sommelier Certificate Course gives the background to confidently respond to inquiries, such as “What do you recommend?”. Retail Owners & Managers benefit from our Sommelier Certificate Course. The knowledge and credentials obtained here enhance one’s resume and help to build one’s professional bio.

Distributors & Salespeople will benefit from a complete wine education laying the groundwork for confidence and knowledge beyond their own particular product.

Why Take Our Courses?

Instructors: The SSA faculty is comprised of New York working career professionals and sommeliers with expertise in all aspects of the wine industry. Our students also engage with visiting winemakers and have access to a network of alumni and other industry leaders.

Wine Regions: all major wine production regions, and business & service techniques. Tasting Selections: each class features at least eight hand selected unique wines, tasting more than 140 wines. Our Chairman, in consultation with the instructors selects exceptional wines to represent each region.

Curriculum: The Certificate Course is an intensive 21-week program rooted in the vibrant New York City wine trade. It covers the foundation, appreciation and business trends of the US market:

• The SSA faculty is comprised of working career professionals with expertise in all aspects of the wine industry

• Seminars on all major wine production regions of the world

• Interactive tasting analysis of benchmark wines and top producers

• Review of current and historical vintages for each region

• Current market trends and business application

• Students engage with visiting winemakers and have access to a network of alumni and other industry leaders

Class Atmostphere: Deviating from the typical memorization-heavy, “here’s-the-book-go-home-and-read-it” methods, SSA classes are highly interactive and stress cooperative learning. We encourage and assist students in creating their own tasting groups for offsite discussions and test preparation.

The final exam includes a written portion and blind tasting component. Students will have online collateral and “Test Your Knowledge" materials to prepare them for the certification test. Those who pass the exam will receive the SSA Sommelier Certification Diploma.

Benefits Your Career: SSA students graduate equipped with the necessary foundation and business skills needed to design and manage a successful wine program.

Personal Attention: a live person is available on a daily basis to engage in discussions on any aspect of wine education and classes. Each and every inquiry is valued and care is taken to respond with complete and detailed suggestions.

Course Fees

The Sommelier Certificate Course fee is $2,195. Includes two books: Exploring Wine, the Wine Folly Book; class handouts & wine region maps; SSA membership pin; Pulltap brand corkscrew; weekly on-line quizzes, and the final exam with blind tasting component.

Upon passing the final exam, students receive the SSA Sommelier Certficate Pin and Diploma.

Advanced Tasting Workshops are $695. Includes handouts, SSA Tasting Notebook & Pen, and Pulltap wine opener. The is a blind tasting exam on the last day; there is no certificate.

Contact Us for corporate group rates.

What Payment Methods Do You Accept?

There are two payment methods: credit card using PayPal (no account required), and paying by check.

If you wish to pay by check please use this registration form:

Check form

Registration Policies

MINIMUM AGE: You must have reached 21 years of age to take this course. At the discretion of the Education Director, you may be asked for proof of age.

TUITION DEADLINE: Application and payment (they must be submitted together) are accepted prior to commencement of the fall or spring session of the Sommelier Certificate Course. Seating is limited and seat reservation is dependent on space available. Once your seat is confirmed, and you have paid your tuition, you will receive written seat confirmation. Please do not attend the first day of class without seat confirmation.

PAYMENT: One may register and pay by credit card through our website. If you would like to pay by check, please use the "pay by check" link above. Bank fees incurred from returned checks are the responsibility of the individual or organization.

REFUND POLICY: No refunds are issued once classes begin. Please plan carefully.

FINAL EXAM: Applies to the Sommelier Certificate Course: The two-hour final exam questions are based on information from lectures, class handouts, and textbook reading assignments. There is a blind tasting component of the exam. Students may postpone taking the final exam until the next session; students may also retake the final exam.

The final exam is given twice a year, at the end of each session. The fee to retake the exam is $150.

ABSENCES: A student may have a maximum of four absences. Missing more than four classes leaves the student unprepared for the final exam.

DIPLOMA: A passing grade of 75% is required to receive the Sommelier Society of America Certification Diploma.

MAKE-UP CLASSES: One may take a make-up class with the permission of the Chairman and providing there is space available. The make-up class must be taken the next session only. One may not retake more than four classes without contacting the administration office to get approval. To re-take the entire course, one must re-apply and pay the full tuition.

RECORDING DEVICES are not permitted.

DRESS CODE: Casual business attire recommended.

Retake Exam Policy

The final exam for the Sommelier Certificate Course is given twice a year, at the end of each session. The fee to retake the Sommelier Certificate Course exam is $150.

Cancellation Policy

No refunds are issued once classes begin for the Certificate Course. Due to the small size of the Advanced Tasting Workshops, limited to 12 persons, the last day to cancel is the Thursday before the first class. Please plan carefully.

Referral Program

Having our alumni refer a friend or colleague to register for the Certificate Course is the highest praise and compliment we aspire to. Email us to inqure about eligibility and details.