One of my best friend’s moms loves wine. Her friends do, too. On one occasion, I accompanied said friend to a cocktail hour, where said friend’s mom’s friend—we’ll call her Alice—managed to incorporate no less than three times that she’d taken sommelier class. 

Alice is a—err…nice lady. She likes to regularly drop in comments about her horses at the family farm in New England. She talks about the sommelier class she took that one time. Her Hèrmes bracelet somehow goes with everything. And did I mention she took a sommelier class? 

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on Alice; a sommelier class may be something to brag about. As budding wine aficionados, you, too, should at least be in the know about this distinguished designation for those with the commas in their bank account to foot the cost. 

The term sommelier has lay use as anyone responsible for wine-related duties at a restaurant or club. They’ll do the pairing, ordering and tasting for the establishment. 

But stateside—and particularly what Alice was getting at—is the Court of Master Sommeliers, a professional designation of sorts that requires years of training, study and even examinations. You might find graduating from Stanford easier than getting this added to your resume. 

The process involves introductory coursework to learn all about the history, varietals, regions and foundational knowledge. There are tasting components and exam series, as well as prerequisites. It’s a professional certification that sets the best in the industry apart. 

The American Court was established in 1977, and to date, just over 225 people have earned “Master” status as a sommelier. There are, of course, other societies internationally that are more regionally inclined—French, Italian, and South African programs, to name a few—as well as a standard international one. 

So if you want to be the very best that no one ever was (I’m dating myself there), take a look at the Court of Masters and see if you think you have what it takes.