Certified Exam | Producer and Vintage Recommendation List

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

Muscadet

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

Parents
  • 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!

  • 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 found that practice really helped. The service is super fine dining and isn't always intuitive. I practiced service so much that I knew how to go through the motions perfectly and it became automatic, which was perfect when they grilled me about sake, champagne single vineyards, and Pomerol producers.

    I'm sure you'll do great! Just breathe and have fun!

  • I'm studying for certified as well and this is my mentality: On Theory, you're an island. No one can help you, it's all up to you on what you know. Tasting and service though, you can have help and resources that will make sure you're on point for game day. And in regard to the Masters, try not to see them as that, but as regular customers who you're trying to pair the perfect beverage with their meal and provide excellent service as you would expect to receive in a fine dining setting . 

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  • I'm studying for certified as well and this is my mentality: On Theory, you're an island. No one can help you, it's all up to you on what you know. Tasting and service though, you can have help and resources that will make sure you're on point for game day. And in regard to the Masters, try not to see them as that, but as regular customers who you're trying to pair the perfect beverage with their meal and provide excellent service as you would expect to receive in a fine dining setting . 

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