I just found out that the certified sommelier exam from The Court of Master Sommeliers will be offered in New Orleans in August, so I decided the best way to get myself motivated to prepare is to go ahead and schedule it! I have a few butterflies in my stomach as I contemplate it, and I must do a lot of practicing before then!
The test has a written component that although not easy, I feel pretty comfortable about. My biggest anxiety is about the wine service and blind tasting component of the exam. The blind tasting requires the identification of 2 wines. The service component requires the pouring and serving of either wine or champagne, and may include decanting. I also need to be able to talk about wine and recommend food pairings. I love talking about wine, so I am not too afraid of that part.
My strategy for the blind tasting is to taste examples of each wine that could end up on our test and fill out a tasting grid on each one. That way, I can learn the hallmarks of each varietal and country of origin. Then I will do some practice runs blind and hopefully get good enough at this to pass the exam. I figured out I need to taste about 52 wines in the next few weeks so that I can cover the range of varietals and countries of origin that may show up on my exam.
Learning the service portion is going to be a little more difficult, since I don't work in a restaurant. But, I may ask some of my friends in the restaurant industry for help and practice. I know what to do, but I need to be practiced and comfortable with all the steps. I may have a lot of friends over to be guinea pigs for me as I master the proper service skills.
I am excited about it, I will be tasting some of the first wines today, and I will post periodically on my progress. If anyone out there has any advice, please comment. I would love to hear your thoughts!