It is hot here in Las Vegas. While it’s pretty apparent that I’m stating the obvious, I understand that not everyone knows what I mean by “hot.” At the time that I did the video, it was about 9:something a.m., about 90ºF, and the sun was determined to ruin my video. And the camera along with it. It was comfortable enough in the shade, but the shade was rapidly retreating. Fortunately, it’s a dry heat. Not unlike a blowtorch.
During the last week I’ve had a lot of questions on my Introductory Sommelier experience, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.
1. Were you nervous?
Oh yes. But not until just before the test began. I was proud of myself during the tasting portion – we spent a considerable amount of time on “the grid” – because I nailed some wines and feel pretty secure for when I am faced with the tasting portion of the Certified Sommelier exam.
2. It’s only 70 questions. How hard could it be?
Well, if you know your stuff, not hard at all. If you don’t know answers to questions, then it’s really hard. The key is to just know as much as your brain will hold. I feel that I could have passed the exam even without the two-day course, but I really wanted to learn how to work the grid for blind tasting. I am reviving my study group so that we can prepare for the Certified exams later this year. Oh, and as an aside, you only needed 60% correct to pass. I know that I did far better than that, but my OCD was disappointed because of six questions that I did not know. Or, more accurately, I wasn’t sure enough if my answers (i.e., WAG*) were correct.
3. Why did so few pass?
I believe that less than half of the candidates actually passed the exam. After reading other people’s experiences on the Intro exam, I realized that the low pass rate really is an anomaly. I am an analyst by vocation, and after stepping back and taking a look at the class at the Bellagio, I realized that the sheer numbers kept us in blind tasting mode longer than we would have been if the class had been about half its size. By spending so much time tasting, assessing, analyzing, and concluding, there was far less time spent on the actual material needed for the exam. If 22 wines are assessed by, say, 80 people in a two-day period as compared to about 250, it’s pretty apparent that those who are in the 80 student class will have an advantage over the lecture hall model. If a person was less prepared but in a smaller class, s/he may have been able to do well. On the other hand, the same person may have crashed and burned at the Bellagio event.
If you are planning to take the exam, just study everything. The downloadable workbook that you get after you join the Guild will guide you through what you have to know. While it’s true that not everything will be asked in the exam, don’t take any chances. Learn EVERYTHING!
The two wines I’m reviewing were a Rosé de Provence and a Sancerre Rouge. Here’s what has happened in the time since I opened and reviewed them.
The Rosé is good and it’s evolved into a gentle afternoon drink. The Sancerre Rouge has lost a little of its rough edges; the tannins have settled, and the fruit has come forward. The flowers that weren’t there at the beginning – the roses and lavender – are now present. I found a few reviews on Sancerre Rouge, and found that my statement about it needed to age a bit was absolutely spot on. The 2013 is very young and overly fresh for an Old World red. I will be getting another bottle or two and letting it rest in my cooler. I’ll revisit it in about a year and review the slightly aged wine at that time. It’s good, but it has the bones to be even better.
As always, you can always ask any questions, either through commenting or via email. I’m happy to answer to best of my ability. And be sure to subscribe!
*WAG = Wild Assed Guesses