Our Newly Minted Master Somm Breaks Down the Ranks, Hands Out Homework

Ferraro's Wine Cellar | Photo by Studio West Photography

Master somms are sort of wine rock stars. What’s the difference, before and after?

Passing the master sommelier exam reminds me of the movie Almost Famous: drama, hard work, fun, drinking and actually tasting success. But the title is a heavy crown to bear. Every opportunity that comes your way must be thoroughly thought through. Representing the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers, one must be mindful of how it is being represented.

Mentors are assigned to the new masters. This helps the organization grow. The master sommelier community has welcomed me with open arms and support.

The one and only privilege of becoming a master sommelier is the ability to be a beacon of light for every type of wine enthusiast. Any person with the ambition to become a master sommelier must have the passion to teach and guide others. And nothing gives me more pleasure than to see a guest enjoy their experience or a student pass an exam. Master sommeliers are always at your service.


I’m a wine aficionado who wants to take my studies to the next level. What are the aspects of the master sommelier test, and what would be my equivalent course of study?

Knowledge is the key to the castle! The master sommelier exam is comprised of a 70-question verbal exam, blind tasting of six wines (three white, three red) and a service module, which is further broken down into Champagne, decanting and food and wine pairing/banquet. So sign up for Amazon Prime–you’re about to become a bookworm.

Step 1: Research. Beginners seeking an intermediate understanding of wine should begin with the following books: Windows on the World: Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly, and The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, by Tom Stevenson. (Wikipedia is also very useful!) It is important to establish a strong foundation of basic knowledge. Jumping into Robert Parker’s Wines of the Rhône Valley will lead to frustrating and time-consuming cross-referencing.

Step 2: Comparison. Organize a salon of similarly minded wine lovers. Blind tasting with others helps relate your palate with other palates to figure out markers. In my earlier years, I picked up sesame seed aromas in Tuscan sangiovese. My peers actually instructed me that I was mistaking it for violets!

Step 3: Mentorship. It is crucial to understand how and why a bottle of wine should be opened and served. But as wine service is best acquired practically, befriend a seasoned sommelier for guidance on service. While you yourself are not working the floor as a sommelier, you can practice on your tasting group. The ritual of serving wine is sacred and personal. A bottle of wine contains four glasses in it for a reason; it’s meant to be enjoyed with others.


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