Sommelier – Just Do It

Sommelier - Just Do It!

How I Took the Plunge to Become a Sommelier

The earth is divided into two types of people – those who love wine and those who put A1 on a well-done steak. There is something about this magical juice that has had a cult following for centuries and now drives one of the largest markets in the world.

My passion for wine started in culinary school. Honestly, I had wine with dinner or on occasion, but my drink of choice was typically liquor or beer, up until I was immersed in the culinary culture where wine came along with it. The wine course at the Culinary Institute of America, where I went to school was the most failed and most expensive course they offered, so when I was up to bat to take it, I knew I had to really dive in and do my best to grasp the subject fast. Little did I know I would fall in love with wine and all the expectations that comes with it.

My eyes were suddenly open to a new world that both intimidated  and excited me. Once I passed this course and graduated, I couldn’t stop thinking about viticulture and how intricate the different facets of the wine world were. I knew I had to leap and take my level one sommelier test right away since it was fresh in my head, but somehow other things reigned at a higher priority when it came to kickstarting my career at the time.

Fast forward 10 years and I finally took THE test. At this point, Baldwin Restaurant Group had risen to 12 “somms” so I decided to stop making excuses and I committed to reopening the book. France, Spain, New World, Old World, Premier Cru versus Grand Cru – my brain was on overload, but now it was personal.

When you take the test, you go through a course headed by some of the best master sommeliers in the world. I got to meet one of the few female master somms in the world and tasted some of the tastiest juice I’ve ever had. After weeks of prep and hours of lessons it was time to put pencil to paper; to put up or shut up and if your name wasn’t called at the end of the grading process ya’ didn’t cut it. Thankfully my name was called and I’m excited to start the journey onto level two.

If I could give any insight to someone thinking of taking the test, I’d say that if the passion for the subject is there then the knowledge will be easier to absorb. France is HUGE, index cards are your friend, find someone else to take it with because study sessions are bomb dot com, and finally just jump in or 10 years will pass by in a blink.

Diving into the different territories of the world and learning how it transfers from the soil to the vine, to the grape, into your glass, then onto your palate, is an aggressive and highly detailed process but trust your gut, and trust your palate on this evaluation of deductive reasoning. Wine knowledge is a wonderful adventure and although this is something you absolutely must invest time and effort into, with these tips you too will be popping champagne and rockin’ your pin.

Article as seen in...