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How to become a wine professional?


violetfox
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Good afternoon. After a long career as a wine enthusiast employed in a series of jobs that haven't always delighted me, I'm happy and terrified to find myself in the position of selling wines to a pretty educated clientele. How do I make the leap from enthusiast to professional - without going broke or becoming an alcoholic? I'm being a little facetious, but it is a serious question - I want to be GREAT at this job, it is a long-held dream career change!

Thanks in advance for your responses!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Distributors often have free classes on their wines, look into what they offer. There are also sommelier classes available in most major cities via different organizations take a look at the web info for the major groups and also ask at local culinary schools. Cheers!

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Distributors often have free classes on their wines, look into what they offer. There are also sommelier classes available in most major cities via different organizations take a look at the web info for the major groups and also ask at local culinary schools. Cheers!

Thank you, Lisa! I just saw on the Master Sommeliers site that there are NO master sommeliers listed for New England! I would like to work at being the first!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Wine professional in what way? Sommelier in a restaurant I could help with...

I will be working in a wine retail shop, but I'm very interested in becoming a sommelier in a restaurant.

Thanks!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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Wine professional in what way? Sommelier in a restaurant I could help with...

I will be working in a wine retail shop, but I'm very interested in becoming a sommelier in a restaurant.

Thanks!

Well the best of luck... then again you don't need luck if you make your own... you could come to have a priori wine knowledge Click On Me

Use of the terms

The terms "a priori" and "a posteriori" are used in philosophy to distinguish two different types of knowledge, justification, or argument: 'a priori knowledge' is known independently of experience, and 'a posteriori knowledge' is proven through experience.

this you can do through learning if you want to jump start the learning... the OCW 3rd edition by Jancis Robinson is a very good place to start... it's the everything you need to know about wine...I have always toted this big @ss book around... you must come also to understand the more you know about wine... the more you will want to know... it's endless...I always say it takes lifetimes to just learn one Region...

go to trade shows and taste as many wines as you can... spit don't drink have a clear head... talk to wine-makers ask questions... anyone who treats you rude just move on ... you will always find a kind person who will want to educate ...

never take anyones word as the truth... never take any article as the law... in this wine business you will find a study pro and one con... every time...

my best advice is when working in a retail environment ask the client to explain the wine if you have not tried it... they will talk about wine if they are a wine geek... if not move on...

if you put in the time in 10,000 hours you will become an expert in anything... the key is put in the time... remember too much pushed in will result in not much remembered... go back always...

Just the other day I had to re study something I had studied twice before ... this time I finally got it... no shame is saying I don't know... never give out bad information... it will bite you hard in the end... you know that place you sit on...lol/...

relax enjoy in the wine business it's most definitely the journey not the destination that is worth more...

Cheers !!! wish you all the very best...

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i recently passed the court of master sommelier's introductory certificate exam. it really taught me how much i don't know, and how much there is to learn. i think it is a good place to start--has a good online community and lots of resources. they hold tasting and other educational events, and there are reallllly smart wine folks involved with this group, who seem very approachable and happy to share their knowledge with folks studying the fascinating world of wine.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Hey Violetfox - the CMS process really is a journey of passion and tears. I just passed the Advanced exam this past year (on my second attempt), and it was a long haul, but one that I have honestly loved. The web page for the court has suggested reading lists for the first 3 levels, and I can honestly say that the books helped me a great deal. The academic portion is just that - being able to study, memorize, and even visualize. For someone like me (a serious geek), it was not a difficult task. I've always been the kind of guy to read everything I could get my hands on, and am always looking for something new. The harder parts were the tasting portions (blind tastings, common varietals, be able to pick out all the pertinent information _quickly_ and in an examination setting), and the service portion. I moved from an area that really didn't have a lot of fine dining, and what was there was definitely a long long way from Swiss service. Getting that kind of exposure, coupled with the opportunity to taste as much as you possibly can, is critical to the higher exams. The really excellent thing about the organization that I've come to learn is that it's a group of people that are, for the most part, really very supportive of each other and people interested in learning more. If you are in (or close enough to) a big city, there are almost certainly informal tasting groups for both the MW and MS courses that you can participate in. These people are also frequently great resources for trading books (many of which are out of print or prohibitively expensive to collect on your own), and study / quiz / practice partners.

Books that I can recommend off hand for the first exam (that I used, and were perfectly adequate for both the first and second exams):

About Wine by Henderson and Rex. This is designed to be a text for a university level class, and reads like it. But, the information is clearly presented, the chapters drill down into the history, laws, varietals, and basic terroirs of each of the major regions. The indexes are particularly useful (listings of all the AVA's as of the printing, official classifications of the Medoc, Sauternes and Barsac, Graves, St Emilion, etc). I have the first edition, but I believe a second was released this year. Drawbacks? It's a textbook, and priced accordingly. Also, not going to give you a ton of detail if you are interested in any particular aspect of either the geography, appellation, or anything like that. Birds-eye view of the universe of wine, if you will.

The World Atlas of Wine by Mitchell Beazley. This is an encyclopedic book that mostly describes appellation by appellation the geography, common soil types, grape types, and a handfull of representative (or more likely famous) wineries from each. The maps are first rate, and the book covers every appellation you will be tested on for the first 2 exams (and, all of them I got on Advanced, but that, I am told, was just luck of the draw).

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson. Not a book that you read cover to cover. This thing is essentially an encyclopedia of wine, and absolutely fantastic. It's my go-to book to quickly look up just about anything. You will find all sorts of things in here, even if just a couple of sentences on each. The sheer concentration of information in the book is staggering. My only gripe about it is that Ms Robinson injects a pretty hefty dose of personal opinion in places where I'm just looking for facts. That quibble, however, doesn't even slow me down in using, and heartily recommending the book. Couple that with the unbelievably awesome fact that she sites primary literature references for tons of the entries, and you have a fantastically useful book. It's a little pricey at just over $40 on Amazon, but well worth it.

Hope this is even a little helpful!

Edited by Dexter (log)
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Thank you very much Chezcherie. And congratulations to you too! Not a lot of people really commit to taking the plunge and putting their knowledge to the test. The basic exam is no chump, as you surely saw. Are you going to keep going with them?

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Taste, taste, taste. The good, the bad, the ugly. Almost any wine can teach you something. Theory is important, too, but it's a bit easier to get at thanks to the Internet than the actual product. Try to find or form a tasting group in your area. If you decide to do the CMS program, after you do the Introductory course you get a free years' membership to their guildsomm site, which is a good way to find tasting groups and wine events in your area.

Second (or third?) the congrats to Dex! I just passed the Certified, and was surprised how much I enjoyed the process. I also just finished a new 30 week program in wine and beverage at the CIA at Greystone and am deciding where I want to go next with my wine nerd-dom.

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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Congratulations to Dexter and Phlox and thanks to chezcherie and all! Having started to read a bunch of wine books, it really is a bit daunting to realize how little I know! It is all absolutely fascinating, though.

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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