How hard is to become a Master Sommelier?

Hello everyone I would like to have an open discussions about how hard is to become a Master Sommelier.

Since the foundation of the Court of Master Sommilier in the 70's only 257 have passed successfully the exam and been acknowledge as Master Sommielier.

If we take a look back 40 years since the first exam towards today the wine world is completely different since then. Back in the 70's the world just started to heal from WW 2 devastating affects  and through the market still had boycotts, agriculture just re-started (as example Australia. the renewal of viticulture just begun) and simply less geographic areas have been asked, less regions considered as classics wines or to put it in short - a Master Sommelier required to know less (maybe even less then an Advance sommelier today?). 

On the other hand, back then to acquire knowledge in today terms can be consider "Mission: Impossible". Much less books, much harder to put hands on the latest info, wines and vintages. There was no people like Jancis Robinson, Fred Dame, Hugh Johnson, Gerard Basset, all of those who we, the young somms consider as Gods on earth. They didn't have anyone to mentor them. Today any beginner somm can just google and order from home in pajamas few books, get a membership in a website like this and to know the latest news. Much more approachable in one click distance.

In my opinion, even though the info today is much more approachable and much easy to acquire it is harder then the 70's. To able to know by heart all of this massive amount of info, a true passion is needed, because there is much more sexy jobs out there, with normal hours, high pay grade and much less exhausting then 50+ hours a week on your legs running around the venue and late night finish time.

What do you think? 

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  • Of course it's hard. Mastery of anything is hard, whether it is wine, or brain surgery, or the law, or the playing of an instrument, or playing a sport, or anything else. It is not the right path for everyone, but neither is competing in the Olympics. It requires incredible sacrifice and discipline to acquire the knowledge and sharpen the skills, and the focus and élan to walk into the room and perform at the highest level in spite of the pressure.

    But the point is not to pass a test and get a pin. The point is that by preparing for exams, making yourself into the person who can pass, you are becoming the best wine professional you can be. And that journey is the point. As a bonus, you make incredible bonds with other people who are at the top of their game, and are as driven and passionate and crazy as you are. Wine is art and science and history and culture and people and community. It is endlessly fascinating, and never-ending. True mastery is not knowing everything, but understanding how it all works together. And you don't have to pass exams to have mastered a subject, either - some of us type A personalities just like to have an actual bar to get over.

    Thanks for bringing up one of the greatest movie quotes of all time. 

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