Tasting Exam

“The blind tasting will follow the Master Sommelier tasting method but has been tailored into a written format. The tasting grid and instructions can be downloaded and studied prior to taking the exam. The candidate will have 15 minutes to evaluate two wines and fill out the tasting grid.” (The Court Of Master Sommeliers)

Both the tasting grid used during the exam and an explanation of how to use it are available on the Court’s website, here are the links:

Tasting Grid Instructions

Tasting Grid

For help with descriptions of the varietals that may be tested on, SEE THE WRITTEN EXAM SECTION. Please note, that the blind tasting examination only tests on the varietals listed on the tasting grid. So when you are conducting practice tastings, these are the varietals you will want to focus on. Also, keep in mind that the wines poured on the exam will almost always be typical examples of varietal and place, i.e. California Zinfandel, Argentine Malbec, German Riesling, Burgundian Chardonnay. So in your practice tastings, focus on the classic examples of a grape from the place where it is best known. Doing this will also be helpful in studying for the written exam. And remember, on exam day, don’t over think your conclusion, if it looks, smells, tastes, and acts like whatever you think it is, it probably is. offers a great guide to tasting by Tom Stevenson that might be helpful in getting you comfortable with tasting analysis. Here’s the link:


Suggestions & Strategies: 

Study / Tasting Groups

Form groups of a few people, then once a week (or more often if possible) one person buys 4 or 5 wines and wraps them all in brown paper bags to conceal their identities. This person then pours the wine for the other group members that week who then practice filling out the Tasting Grids and discuss the wines. This will give everyone practice at not only blind tasting and using the Tasting Grid but for the person hosting for the week, it can be a chance to practice some of the service techniques (minus showing the customer the label and bottle).

Gaining Exposure

Gaining exposure to a wide variety of wines can be an expensive and cumbersome task, especially by the bottle. So try going wine tasting at some of the places listed under the Local Wine Tasting section as much as possible. That way you’ll have a chance to try several different wines for a fraction of the price, and you might even be able to get the person behind the bar to pour some things for you blind. When you go tasting make sure to bring several copies of the Tasting Grid with you, you’re going to want to be familiar and comfortable with it come exam day.

Cal Poly Pomona Students

If you have not already taken HRT 316 perhaps it is time to seriously consider doing so. Not only will the advanced wine course help give you an incredible amount of exposure to wines you have never had, but the class tests you on a great wealth of information which is expected for the written portion of the Certified Exam. Instead of approaching HRT 316 as just another elective course push yourself to take it much more seriously and use it to put together your own notes and materials to use in your preparations for the certified exam. Keep in mind, much like passing the Certified examination this class requires a great deal of work.


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