I’ll take sommelier homework any day

March 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

As with any certification, you have to take courses and pass exams to become a true sommelier. In this case, they’re not easy. There’s lots of homework involved.

In preparation for my stage at Frasca, I’ve been doing my homework. It’s been a tough, unpleasant task, but somehow I’ve suffered through it. Maybe it’s all of that delicious wine I’ve been tasting.

For homework, I paid a visit to the Boulder Wine Merchant, owned by another Boulder Master Sommelier, Brett Zimmerman. Gili, one of his knowledgeable associates put together a case of classic wines for me to try. I started with 6 classic whites (chardonnay, sauv blanc, chenin blanc, riesling, viognier & pinot grigio) & 6 classic reds (gamay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon/merlot, sangiovese, syrah & zinfandel). All of these were wines most typical of those varietals.  She also printed out the certified sommelier tasting exam sheets so as I was tasting I could think about how you would have to evaluate the wine if you were blind tasting it on the sommelier exam.

Not only was that exercise a lot of fun, it gave me a whole new set of dimensions with which to evaluate wine. As you taste these wines side by side you can really start to distinguish their differences. It’s a fun thing to do with friends. I have not ventured into blind tasting quite yet but I’ll get into that more this week.

In addition to tasting homework, I’ve also done a lot of reading. Bobby Stuckey, Master Sommelier from Frasca, suggested I read Secrets of a Sommeliers. From his perspective it gives good insight into how sommeliers think. It was definitely an interesting read and I came away with how the idea of a sommelier is being crafted in the United States compared with the stodgy stereotypes.

The Court of Master Sommeliers also recommends reading the Wine Bible and Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. I found these to be really helpful as you’re tasting different wines to learn about their nuances. They are packed with info.

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