I earned my Level 1, or Introductory Sommelier certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers this past week. What a fantastic experience. I came away having further tuned my process of deductive tasting, which will not only improve my blind tasting skills, but, more importantly, will improve my ability to describe wines and their places of origin. I also received a lapel pin similar to the picture at right. Unfortunately, my work as a sommelier occurs mostly at my computer and among friends and family, so I will proudly display it at home as I continue studying to advance to the next level.
Yes, there are four levels, but it’s not like attaining the fourth level is a given. Since 1973, only a handful have earned the coveted distinction of Master Sommelier each year. Most do not pass at least one of the three parts of the exam – knowledge, service, and blind tasting. To date, only 186 people in the world are able to wear that particular pin.
I was most fortunate to have five of those Masters teach my course in Washington, DC last week. They included Michigan-based restaurant and wine consultant Ron Edwards, Melissa Monosoff of Savona Restaurant in Philadelphia, educator and Boulder Wine Merchant owner Wayne Belding, New York restauranteur Scott Carney, and our own local Master Sommelier, Kathy Morgan of Michel Richard Citronelle in DC. These five individuals not only posses a passion for the subject, surpassed only by the breadth and depth of their knowledge, they have an uncanny knack for teaching and entertaining. Consider yourself lucky if you have the good fortune to cross paths with these or any other Master Sommelier out there. Oh, and go ahead and order whatever they recommend. You won’t be disappointed.