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Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Official: The Glamorous Gourmet is a Certified Sommelier!

You may have noticed I have been delinquent in my posting lately and I have missed you all very much! I had a very good reason though, I have been studying for my Certified Sommelier Exam which was Tuesday, April 19th. While a decidedly grueling day that I would never want to repeat, I am happy to report - I passed! After the events of the past 6 months (hip surgery, ongoing recovery, losing my 15 year old dachshund, Katie) it is a very welcome accomplishment.

After completing the first level of this certification in 2008, I finally decided to tackle the second level (out of four) of this widely respected organization whose credentials are recognized worldwide. The Court of Master Sommeliers was originally established to encourage high standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants with education as their primary goal. The first Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969 and by April 1977, the Court was established as the premier international examining body. Over the four decades since the first examination, only 180 candidates have earned the Master Sommelier Diploma - the fourth and ultimate level. There are 112 Master Sommeliers in North America, of those, just 17 are women.

Sylvie Gervais, Cary Combine & I - Certified Sommeliers!
The Certified Sommelier exam consisted of three parts: a blind tasting, a written theory exam and a practical service demonstration. With only a 45% pass rate, it holds examinees to a very high standard in each area. While the primary focus of the exam was wine, emphasis was also placed on liquors, cocktails and food and wine pairings. I have to say, I had no idea there were THAT many cocktail recipes in existence, although my husband Steve was quick to confirm it!  Being primarily a wine drinker, prior to studying I didn't really know a Pimm's Cup from a Harvey Wallbanger. Now, I am happy to report, I definitely know my Gibson from my Rob Roy! While preparing for the exam, I was fortunate to have attended study sessions with two amazing Master Sommeliers, Virginia Philip and Juan Gomez of The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach where the exam was given. They were extremely encouraging not to mention infinitely knowledgeable (seriously, they are awe-inspiring)! All in all, it was a wonderful, albeit intense learning opportunity I am grateful for having experienced. I am also grateful for good friends, two of whom took the exam the same day. I am happy to report they also passed - Congratulations, Cary and Sylvie!

We  celebrated with a bottle of Champagne at the Breaker's beautifully appointed Tapestry Bar and then proceeded to Delray Beach for more bubbly and other wines including a 2003 J. Moreau & Fils Chablis Grand Cru "Le Clos," 2007 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2001 Caymus Special Selection and a 2005 Château de Pez Saint-Estéphe Bordeaux. I guess I should mention we had some help polishing off all that great wine! I'm looking forward to some more great bottles this weekend and I hope everyone has a lovely and blessed Easter!


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