The Rigorous Process To Become A Master Sommelier

No one likes tests. The studying, the cramming, and the stress all culminate on the day of the exam. You sit there for maybe an hour until you've answered every question and the relief you feel when it's over is almost palpable. But it's likely that not even the toughest college exams compare with the test you need to pass to become a Master Sommelier. According to MasterClass, a sommelier is a wine professional, and there are different levels of expertise, with the "Master" title being the highest. Not all sommeliers are masters. Forget about preparing for a week, a month, or even a year; those determined to make Master Sommelier their ultimate achievement are committed to devoting years of their life to preparing for the final exam.

It's not just about learning about wine, rather, an extensive understanding of art, science, and history come into play, per Court of Master Sommeliers. Candidates must first pass three additional courses and exams ranging from beginner to advanced knowledge before they are allowed to apply for the Master Diploma program. To give you an understanding of just how challenging the test is, Forbes suggests the preparation for it compares to obtaining a medical degree. Club and Resort Chef claims that the Master Sommelier test is one of the world's most challenging tests and has a pass rate of 10%. Since 1969, only 273 people have earned the Master Sommelier title and they each had to pass the exam's three different parts.

A world of knowledge

Once hopefuls have successfully passed the introductory, certified, and advanced sommelier examinations, they can begin to prepare for the Master diploma. At this point, according to Wine Folly, they will have had to work in the food and beverage industry for some time, be able to run a wine list, and educate others about wine. Master diploma candidates will first take an oral theory exam about the roles of a sommelier, then a tasting exam in which they must correctly identify the type, region, and year of production of six wines, via Forbes. Finally, students must pass the wine service portion, where they are required to prepare and present a wine service consisting of the correct glassware, decanting wine, and answering potential customer's questions. This just scratches the surface; Club and Chef Resort notes that contenders must know the ins and outs of roughly ten thousand grape varietals in the world.

The theory portion of the exam must be passed first but candidates have three uninterrupted years to take and pass the remaining portions. If all three are not passed in that time frame, they all must be taken and passed again. Since its inception, only 14 candidates have passed all three portions on their first try. Master Sommelier Christopher Bates told Forbes that his journey for the title took 12 years. It's no easy feat, but the few who earn their Master certification enjoy wonderful careers in esteemed restaurants, wineries, hotel chains, and as consultants.