Becoming a Master Sommelier is the singular achievement for many wine professionals. It's no surprise these men and women are immortalized in sommelier documentaries, regardless of what your sommelier definition looks like.
Becoming a sommelier ain't easy. Passing the Master Sommelier exam takes some experienced sommeliers up to 3 years to complete. And that’s on top of years and years spent honing their wine expertise and service industry chops and working with a wine negociant to find the best wines. It’s an exclusive club, but just how exclusive? What does it take to earn this prestigious wine expert name?
Let’s take a look at how many Master Sommeliers there, across the world and in the Americas, and who they are. At the bottom of the article is a list of every Master Sommelier in the world along with when their diploma was issued. All numbers are through 2019.
How Many Master Sommeliers Are There?
There are currently 269 people in the world who have passed the final sommelier certification level and earned the title Master Sommelier. Each year, an average of just over five people globally earn their Master Sommelier Diplomas, with a high of 16 in 2005 and a low of zero in 1983.
Successfully completing the course is getting more common, though only relatively. And it’s because there are more applicants, not because the material is getting any easier. We looked at all the diplomas awarded since its inception, and here’s the breakdown by decade:
Note, though, that there were only three Master Sommeliers minted in the 60s because 1969 was the first year they were awarded. In fact, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established in 1977 in the United Kingdom.
How Many Master Sommeliers Are There in the U.S.?
There are a total of 172 Master Sommeliers from North and South America (whose diplomas were issued from the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas chapter). This represents roughly 64% of the world’s 269 Master Sommeliers.
Who Are the Master Sommeliers in the U.S.?
Below is the current global Master Sommeliers list, along with a designation of whether their diploma was issued by the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas chapter. The list also includes the date their diploma was issued.
Master Sommelier List
All data collected from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
The next time you enjoy a glass of wine or celebrate National Wine Day, spare a thought for the people who worked hard to earn this distinction. They have the expertise to show you how to pour wine and tell you the benefits of swirling wine. It's a truly exclusive list, making the achievement of passing the Master Sommelier Exam a special accomplishment.