Forbes: World’s Toughest Test? The Master Sommelier Diploma Exam

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Recently the Court of Master Sommeliers welcomed four new members; A mighty number when you consider the grueling fact that only 200 people have passed since the exam’s inception 40 years ago in the UK. The Master Sommelier’s Diploma exam is the world’s most challenging wine examination, period.

On average candidates sit for the exam two to three times, some take it as many as six times. Newly minted Master Sommelier Christopher Bates, owner and winemaker of Element Winery (Arkport, NY) and sommelier at Hotel Fauchere (Milford, PA), estimates he invested well over $30,000 in testing fees and travel alone. “Just taking the exam is about three or four thousand bucks with travel costs and time off of work, but that does not include the thousands of dollars spent on wine for ongoing blind tastings prior to the test,” says Bates. “I started on this track 12 years ago; it’s taken so much to get here.”

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