Part One

Okay. I’ve put this off long enough. In spite of the shameless self-promotion I was doing, things didn’t work out *quite* the way I had planned.

One of the reasons that I’ve been gone so long is because I had been hitting the wine books studying and trying to retain all I could so that I’d pass the Certified Sommelier exam.

So. How did it go?


I had originally scheduled a bunch of wine certification exams within a two-week period. First, there was the WSET L2 exam, then the CSW exam (at a testing center), and then the Somm exam. I would nail this thing! This is in addition to entering and winning several Toastmasters contests as well as completing my Advanced Toastmaster Bronze certification.

Unfortunately, as they say, the best laid plans, blah blah blah.

First, the WSET was rescheduled for the spring. Then, due to real life, I had to reschedule the CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) for another date, so I went into the Certified Sommelier exam without the extra certifications I had planned to swagger into the Aria with.

Just about everybody I know who has taken the Court of Master Sommelier exam haven’t gone past Introductory, and those who have are very, very busy being actual Sommeliers. So other than what I was reading from Google search results, I went in blind.

Boy am I glad I did! Expensive lesson, well and gratefully learned.

Unlike every other test through the Court, the Certified is the only one where you will receive feedback on what you did wrong. Of course, you only receive this feedback if you didn’t pass.

Oopsie. Was that my name on the envelope?

The great thing is that I already knew where I had blown it and knew that I would not be passing the exam this time around.

Let me share a little about the exam so that you can be prepared.

The Three

The exam is in three parts: Theory, Blind Tasting, Service.

The Theory exam and Blind Tasting happen at the same time. The Theory exam is made up of 40 questions. There’s a mix – some multiple choice, some true/false, short (very short) essay, etc. The Blind Tasting is pretty straightforward at this level: one red, one white.

Just because there are 40 questions on the exam doesn’t mean that it’s easy. In fact, when I went over the questions before I started answering them, I asked myself, “Why aren’t they asking questions on the stuff I studied?!?” Actually, there were only about five that I knew I bombed on (one being so elementary that anyone who could spell Two Buck Chuck would slap me), but since I didn’t get the “this is what you did wrong” note on that part of the test, I’m pretty sure I passed. Of course the other candidates and I talked about the exam, and I was happily surprised that I’d nailed some that were pretty difficult.

The Blind Tasting was based on The Grid, and for me, it required more thought on how to fill out The Grid than it did to figure out what the wines were.

And then there was the Service portion.


I bombed so badly that I was chuckling to myself before it was over. The one good thing I did was to carry a bunch of glasses on a tray across the room. That was kind of a leftover from my bartender/occasional cocktail waitress days when maneuvering trays of drinks to guests located in different areas surrounding a dance floor could sometimes be an obstacle course. I was happy to see that I hadn’t lost my touch! In spite of a lot of practice at home – which was obviously not enough – I began on the left side of the guest (a Master Sommelier who did a great job hiding the fact that he was shaking his head) and it went downhill from there.

So What’s Next?

I’m looking forward to the next exam that’s scheduled locally and plan to pass with flying colors. Or just pass!

So what would I do differently? You’ll have to hang around for Part Deux. It may be lengthy!



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