I Passed!

It's been too long since my last post, but at the very least, I have an excuse why. For the past few months I have been hunkering down and preparing for the Level 2 Certified Sommelier Examination with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

A little less than two years ago, I decided to take my obsession with wine to the next level, so I signed up for my Level 1 with the Court. I traveled to Miami and spent two intensive days tasting wine and learning from Master Sommeliers. That two day session ended with a written exam and a glass of bubbly. For those that passed, it also included a lovely pin (the red one on the left,) a certificate, and the ability to move ahead with the Court.

I came home excited and inspired. I joined a blind tasting group here in Orlando and decided I wanted to try for my Level 2. That tasting group turned out not only to be a great place to learn more and train/test my palate, but has also brought me some of my nearest and dearest friends.

It was with great trepidation then, when earlier this year I signed up to actually take the exam. Friends of mine had taken it already, some passing, some failing, but everyone stronger for having attempted. I decided to buckle down and do this.

So, I stopped blogging. Full time job, husband, and test prep took over my priorities, and I started studying, practicing service, and became devoted again to the practice of blind tasting.

In case you don't know, the CMS Level 2 exam is in three parts. First, you blind taste wines. You basically walk into a room and take a seat where a glass of white and a glass of red are already poured for you and waiting. You are told nothing about the wines, but you are given the Court's testing grid where you describe the color, flavors, and structure of the wine before attempting your conclusions of what grape is in the glass, where it's from, and its age.

From there you complete a written theory exam. Multiple choice, matching, and fill-in-the-blanks covering the entire world of wine and spirits. Everything from matching grapes to regions or producers, to explaining how a copper still works is fair game. Sake, liqueurs, spirits, are all on the table, but the majority of the questions are wine based.

Then lastly, you get do the practical service portion of the examination. This is treated like a restaurant service experience where you serve a Master Sommelier while they question/quiz you verbally. You come prepared to decant wine or open a bottle of Sparkling and show that you can do it quietly and professionally, with all the proper glassware and service etiquette standards.

The test is no joke. I knew it would be a challenge. And I came to Tampa ready to test, both hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I brought my wine keys, and all the accoutrements I knew I'd need for service. I woke up early, ate breakfast, then gargled with a bit of Chablis since blind tasting wine at 8 am is not particularly easy on your taste buds.

The blind tasting and theory portion flew by. When I returned to my hotel room (you are assigned a time to return for service) I couldn't even remember what questions had been on it. So I had a glass of wine, then opened and poured a bottle of bubbles to practice for my upcoming service exam. That too, flew by as I tried to follow all my proper service standards while being friendly, professional, and oh yeah, answering questions non-stop.

Once I was done, there was nothing left to do but wait. And wait I did. I went to lunch (I completed all three portions by 11:30 am) chatted with friends, and tried not to stress out too much as I waited for results. 

At the end of the day, when everyone was done with service, they called us all back in for the reception. Like Level 1, the Masters poured us a glass of sparkling, then announced, in no particular order, who passed. So I waited some more. I wasn't confident my name would be called, the rumbling in the bottom of my stomach would not cease, but I felt hopeful and proud to have taken the test since I'm not in the wine industry. And happily for me, my name was called. I received my pin and certificate, joined my husband and my friends, went out to dinner, and celebrated with wine, the perfect ending to the day.

Labels: ,