(EDIT 15 July 2015 – The original version of this post contained photographs of the Table of Contents of the textbook mentioned below. Due to copyright concerns, these images have been removed and have been replaced with select articles from Wikipedia. An additional disclaimer can be found at the end of this article)
Sometimes I’m asked exactly how much one needs to know to be a competent sommelier. Recently I signed up to take the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory and Certified Courses. These are their first two qualifications and passing them is a prerequisite for moving onto their Advanced and Master diplomas.
Having just received one of the required textbooks, (specifically “Sales and Service for the Wine Professional” by Brian K Julyan) I thought it would be enlightening to share the table of contents, just to show how broad and deep one’s knowledge needs to be.
This ONE textbook contains information about:
- Bars and Wine Cellars
- Viticulture and Vinification (Winemaking)
- Wine Laws and Regulations
- Sensory Evaluation
- Old World Wine Regions
- New World Wine Regions
- Sparkling Wines
- Fortified Wines
- Spirits, Beers, and other drinks (e.g. liqueurs, cordials, waters, etc…)
- Table and Bar Service
- Hygiene, Health and Safety
You might look at the above and think that’s not a long list of points… until you click into each article and start reading. Multiply that by the number of various countries (or even regions!) that have their own particular rules and regulations, and you start to wonder whether the pass mark of 60% is low enough for you.
So, there you have it. Over 300 pages of content to get through. And each individual chapter could have entire books written about them as well. When you pause to consider that, you really begin to understand how vast and complex the world of wine is.
Wish me luck!
(Additional disclaimer: the above is just a superficial list of topics covered, which may change over time, and in no way perfectly reflects the real material that the Court of Master Sommeliers will choose to examine at any moment. The above should be used only as a rough guide and as entertainment, and does not substitute real study or experience)
Read more: Information is Power