Sommelier Certificate Course FAQ
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.
We currently offer the Sommelier Certificate: Our signature Sommelier Certificate Course is 20 weeks, offer twice annually.
The Sommelier Certificate Course is a comprehensive and intensive study of oenology and the significant wine regions of the world. Taught by a team of experienced industry professionals, 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 take home tests, "Test Your Knowledge", 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. If you are interested in registering please email us to be placed on the waitlist.
* Wines for the weekly tastings, a minimum of eight per class, diverse and unique to each semester, are selected by our Chairman in consultation with our Education Director.
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, and the passionate consumer.
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.
The Consumer: Regardless of one’s level of experience, there is always much more to learn. Terroir changes, influenced by climate and weather; tastes and the wine market change.
Why Take Our Courses?
Instructors: The SSA faculty is comprised of working career professionals 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: 18 wine producing countries including significant re-emerging 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 highlighted region.
Curriculum: The SSA Certificate Course is an intensive 20-week program rooted in the vibrant New York City wine trade. It covers the foundation, appreciation and business trends of the US market:
- Seminars on major and emerging wine production regions of the world
- Interactive tasting analysis of benchmark wines from top producers, with a review of current and historical vintages in each region
- Current market trends and business application
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.
SSA Alumni Network: Exclusive to our graduates, an online community to keep in touch with other SSA alumni, and grow your industry contacts.
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.
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; five Test Your Knowledge 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. There is no final exam for the workshops.
Contact Us for corporate group rates.
What Payment Methods Do You Accept?
There are two payment methods: credit card using PayPal, and paying by check.
If you wish to pay by check please use this registration form:
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.
No refunds are issued once classes begin. Please plan carefully.