If you know a lot about wine, there’s a good chance you’ve had a moment where you’ve stopped to consider becoming a master sommelier.
The harsh truth? It’s probably not going to happen for you.
Sorry. We know we live in a world where every kid gets a trophy, but the fact of the matter is that becoming a master sommelier is one of the hardest things to accomplish. There are only 201 master sommeliers in the entire world and 134 of those are in North America. During this year’s test in Dallas, 70 people took the exam and one passed.
What is so hard about this test? There’s a new documentary out that digs deeper into that question. It’s called Somm and it follows prospective master sommeliers as they try to earn their place as one of the elite. Unlike the SATs or the Bar exam, the master sommelier test is only given once a year, so applicants need to make sure they’re at the top of their game before they go for it. The test has three parts:
Theory – This portion is written and covers fundamental questions about the world of wine, spirits, beer and service with emphasis on the world’s wine appellations and corresponding grape varieties.
Oral Exam – This is a blind tasting and candidates only have 15 minutes to evaluate 2 wines and fill out a tasting grid.
Service – Candidates are tested on standard wine service, champagne service or decanting service. They are also evaluated on their knowledge of aperitifs, cocktails, food and wine pairing, proper service temperature of wine and beverages, and ability to communicate and sell.
Somm follows four friends through this entire process and shows how mentally and physically exhausting this exam can be. We’re told the end of the documentary is especially emotional when the men find out who has made the cut; it’s actually been compared to sports movies for the competitive nature of these individuals and the emotion involved. We always knew drinking was a sport… now we have proof.