I really have no idea what to expect with regards to the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary for the service portion of the certified exam so I put together a list (LIST IS ATTACHED AS A SPREADSHEET) of my favorite wines from most major regions with a couple of options at different price points for each that I'd be happy recommending. Prices are not listed here, but basically for each wine or region there is a producer for a more down to earth budget (listed first) as well as an option (or two) more suited for a special occasion.
There are a few holes because honestly, I either haven't had any examples or haven't had one that I feel good about recommending, haha.
Specifically Missing (please feel free to recommend so I can go try them)
A great budget right bank Bordeaux
Special Occasion Aussie Shiraz (Not Penfolds Grange or Block 42 etc.) (I would feel like a tool recommending this in an exam because it seems obvious, and I've never tried it. This is also why there are no Bordeaux First Growths or Burgundy Grand Crus on the list.)
Franciacorta (would like to have a few other champagne alternatives)
Cruase (I am extremely intrigued by the idea of these wines but have no clue where to buy them)
Please feel free to point out any obvious omissions (especially from the advanced and masters) that you would think me off my rocker if I didn't recommend in an exam setting.
This is a list that allows me to give honest recommendations from experience, so if you don't like the wines on here or think they are terrible, you may be absolutely correct, but I feel like I could at least speak genuinely about these.
Finally, I have chosen to eliminate prices and go with a more generic structure in that regard because I know these prices retail but have no idea how appropriate it would be to mention retail prices in an exam (restaurant) setting where I assume there would be an implied markup.
Any thoughts are always greatly appreciated, and feel free to use the list if it helps you at all!
Producer + Vintage Recs.xlsx
For Franciacorta try Ca' del Bosco Cuvee Prestige as entry level and Anna Maria Clementi (Ca' del Bosco) as premium wine - this last one is pretty good!
Domaine de L'Ecu has some good Muscadet for a reasonable price. Not sure if you can find them in your market but it's worth a try.
thank you for sharing
Looks like you've got a great start on the list!
As for specific wines, Ca' del Bosco and Bellavista does some lovely Franciacorta. Belstar and Bisol are great Proseccos. Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz and Mollydooker Carnival of Love are great Australian Shiraz wines. Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf and La Mondotte are great for St. Emilion Grand Cru. Maybe look for some Pomerol producers as well.
Biggest tip: keep it simple and practice till you can do the service in your sleep! You'll be all nerves on game day and don't want to freeze. Don't over complicate things if you don't have to.
My biggest concern is that your list is looking way too complicated and in depth for the certified exam. You should focus on the major grapes and pick 2 new world and 2 old world examples, taking the wine style into account. Try to have 2-3 producers of each style. Honestly, you probably won't be asked about a Cruase, Albarino, or Muscadet at this level. They'll ask you mostly about the wine style (unoaked vs. oaked Chardonnay, dry vs. sweet Rieslings, New World vs. Old World Cabs, etc.) in relation to food, and ask for recommendations similar to some wine they say they had the other day. At this level, they probably won't nit-pick about the stylistic differences between a Russian River and Sonoma Pinot, but will ask about the differences between California and Burgundy Pinots, and they will care about the classics.
The Masters are mainly there to make sure you know the basics, not to catch you with some cool, trendy, niche stuff.
Also, don't be afraid of having wines on your list that go up to $300-$400; they're looking for benchmark wines that are "reasonably" priced (so I agree, keep the First Growths and Grand Cru Burgundies off your list). You can have fun recommending some of the nice wines that would be a hard sell in a real restaurant!
Hey, I commented on another post of yours, wanted to chip in again here with two things.
One, for service, a common theme in stories I’ve heard is: when you recommend something, they always ask a follow up question. Which is to say, if you prepare to recommend one muscadet, be ready for them to ask about more Muscadet. Which means: stick with what you know. At the CS level they’re probably not going to ask “do you have any whites from the Pays Nantais?” they’re gonna ask “could you recommend a Loire white?” or “what would be good with my moules marinieres?” Even if they do ask a muscadet-specific question, you can try for a pivot like “we don’t have a Muscadet but we do have a ...” and if your pivot is good, then you’ll be ok. Whatever your answer is, they very well may ask you a more detailed question on that topic.
Two, if you want help with a theory quiz before your test, I’d be happy to help. email@example.com
I wouldn’t worry about specific price accept to know which wines are super expensive and which aren’t. Don’t suggest Pinot Grigio to a table that started with Grand Dame.
Good call, haha! Thanks, Nathan!
Thank you, Alexander!!! I’ll be in touch shortly regarding a theory overview as my exam is March 6th!
This is amazing information. Thank you, Heather! I also think that is my biggest fear is that I’ll “freeze” up on game day. I know the info is in my head and even the ability to communicate it with no problem in any normal setting, but the masters are scary, lol!
I'm not sure. they absolutely grilled me on producers and vintages of Champagne and Bordeaux. I was wholly unprepared for that level of specificity and bombed the service portion despite doing wine service on a daily basis at my job. I never froze on the actual wine service, but I came out feeling like I didn't know the difference between yellowtail shiraz and penfolds grange. maybe I just had a particularly hard MS.I don't want to terrify you obviously, but my experience was not fun.
Think versatility. In my case, and I know it's not always the same, I was asked to pair a bottle with a menu of a few courses.
Hi Lukus. Sorry about your experience! Here is a link to an exercise I do every day that helped me to nail down the 1855 classified chateau of the medoc https://www.sporcle.com/games/acyso/bordeaux
I would spend about 20 min a day trying to fill in the blanks most of the time just committing one or two new ones at a time to memory. It took me almost two months and seemed impossible at first, but now I know them by heart, and it has helped me tremendously when shopping for good Bordeaux wines.
Here is a link to a similar exercise I do for champagne and the prestige cuvees of the major houses. Again, it’s helped tremendously with the concept of recommending bubbles at both an entry price point and a fancy option.
Hope it helps, and I hope you crush it on your next attempt!
Good call! Will start putting together a short list of versatile reds and whites that go with just about anything! So much to do in 10 days, lol!
Bobby, just one thing to point out to you to be careful on that quiz about the growths of bordeaux is it lists Kirwan as a second growth when it is a 3rd
Thanks, David! All of these quizzes are unverified, so I always check the info with other sources to confirm. But they have been extremely helpful because they force me to type the names rather than just answering multiple choice questions. But thank you for clarifying an important point!