And with that, there were 44 newly credentialed Level One Sommeliers. I am proud to say that I was one of those new L1 Somms. For some in the group, it was their final destination. For others, me included, the journey continues.

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And with that, there were 44 newly credentialed Level One Sommeliers. I am proud to say that I was one of those new L1 Somms. For some in the group, it was their final destination. For others, me included, the journey continues. How much can you possible learn about a specific wine, winery or wine region, you ask.

A lot. Probably more than you would have ever thought possible. A couple of months ago, I made the decision to pursue my Sommelier certification. For those of you who are wondering what the heck a Sommelier is, a Sommelier is a wine specialist, typically working at a high end restaurant.

The Sommelier also handles the opening, decanting and pouring of the wine for the party. To earn this status you are required to pass a Wine Theory exam consisting of 70 questions about wine types and the various regions they come from.

Beer, spirits and sake are also included on the test, but fortunately for me, there was only a question or two about those drinks. To prepare for the test, a candidate must attend a two day, fast paced class. I began studying months in advance. I had read online that there is no way you can pass the class if you rely solely on the two day class prep class. I found that to be great advice as the course instructor went through the material at break neck speed.

After the first day of class, Maryann and I grabbed a quick dinner and I studied some more. There was no way I was going to fail the test after driving to Vancouver BC for the course and test. Failure was not an option. We have no idea what wines are in front of us when we start the tasting.

In the process, we assess it visually, check out its aromas and then taste the wine. From the information we gather, we start the identification process leading to a final conclusion, in which we identify the grape, vintage, country and if sub-region.

I am proud to say that I nailed that one! Over the two days, we conducted 22 blind tastings. The Master Sommeliers also demonstrated how a professional wine and Champagne service should be conducted. That too is tested in Level Two. When the service demonstration concluded, it was time for the exam. The 70 question multiple choice exam is designed to test a breadth, not a depth, of knowledge at this level.

I was surprised that there were as many questions about Austrian wines as there were about Oregon, Washington and California, together. Yes, the Oregon question was about Pinot Noir. But the Washington question was about weather and the California question was about a river in wine country. Breadth, not depth. As I worked through the test, I knew it was going to be close. Why were there so many questions about Austria? There were some surprise questions about France and South Africa.

After turning in my exam and leaving the room, Maryann was waiting in the hallway. I told her that I thought I passed, but that the test was tough. When the instructors were finished grading the exam, we each received a glass of Champagne as we walked into the class room. When Brett proudly announced that everyone had passed the written exam, the entire class let out a loud cheer and toasted the success.

One by one, each of our names was announced and we received out certificate and pin. It was official; I am a Level One Sommelier.

I recommend you create your own study guide using the course book and practice exams you find online. There are no shortcuts to passing the exam.

Read the materials and study. Good luck, you can do it.


Becoming a Level 1 Sommelier

The Introductory Course provides a fast paced review of Theory; candidate should come prepared with theoretical knowledge of the world of wine and beverages and what is expected of a Sommelier working in the hospitality sector. Candidates must come prepared for success by engaging in some specific reading beforehand. Beginning at am and finishing around pm both days. At the end of day two we will invite you to take a theory examination. The good news is that all questions are multiple choice reflecting the content of the preceding two days. Please note the following Court of Master Sommeliers Americas policy: Sommeliers holding an Introductory Sommelier Course credential have three years after passing the Introductory Examination to sit the Certified Sommelier Examinations.


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