Relieved to report that I passed the intro yesterday at Salamander Resort in Middleburg. Andy, James, Robert, and Jarrod were great.
My question is about the jump between intro and certified. My prep for intro was to read the course outline, back it up with the study guides, and back it up with the relevant sections of McNeil's book. I still didn't feel totally comfortable, and am pretty sure I missed plenty of the questions on France.
So I guess my question is: what has been your experience with the difference in intensity of study, level of specificity, etc? In talking with some of the other students in the class, there seemed to be two schools of thought: that certified wasn't un-doable if you were well prepped for intro (and maybe I wasn't), or that it would be significantly more challenging.
In addition, I'm wondering about the format. Is it still two days of review? Or is it just the theory, blind taste (two wines?) and service?
You should expect a pretty drastic jump in knowledge expectations between intro and certified. As someone who just sat the exam yesterday, there is absolutely zero chance I would’ve passed on my intro level of knowledge.
It’s a one day exam. Tasting (4 wines), Theory, and Service.
Congratulations on passing Intro!!
Great insight. And thanks for the words of congrats. Any particular advice on studying?
I do not agree at all with Stephanie. There is jump between Intro to Cert but is not high at all. I would say the difference is about the medium size details. They will not ask you about ABV or grape must levels but they will do want you to know smaller AOC (like where is Bordalino or Murey and what grape they use) they want you know major vintages for Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux and Port. You need to recognize the 1855 classified growth and where they are...
and in short answer - know what located where and for a bit major regions (like loire valley or Rijoa) know the grapes
Complete doable... regard the wines as far I know for cert level you asked to taste 2 wines (1 white 1 red). I did my Intro+Cert 2 weeks ago in Sydney under CMS Oceania that belong to the European chapter
You’re obviously welcome to disagree Omer, but i was speaking from experience as someone that sat the certified exam on Tuesday in the US.
Be expansive. Use maps. Every time you study a region — correlate it with the map. See what countries it is near. See why the climate makes sense. See what climate modifiers are there. Memorizing things mechanically is all well and good. But your goal is to have this level of knowledge, not just pass a single test. So understanding the bigger picture, to me, helped retain the information in an organic way. Also, I’ll say brainscape ended up being a lifesaver, because I could flip through notecards anytime I had a free moment.
Guys - both valuable feedback. I really appreciate the contrasting viewpoints. Obviously everyone studies and prepares in their own way, so its good to hear a couple of varying opinions. Thanks again!!!
I've never heard of brainscape...can you point me in that direction? For maps, did you use Winefolly? I've heard mixed reviews on her map products.
Brainscape is a notecard app for iOS/Android. And I used the World Atlas of Wine the most :). You can print ones from guild somm to trace the major regions. I bought high quality page protectors and wet erase markers so I could use blank ones to quiz myself.
No class, no review. Blind tasting, Theory and Service.
I passed my certified in December and the advice I would give is do not underestimate the service portion. Expect to tested during service it's not a gimme by any means. I highly recommend studying the wine world in the form of mapping. Know the worlds main regions and subregions (varieties, famous vineyards and producers).
Took the certified last December, took the intro two years prior. I would say the difference is nuanced. Basically, the jump up in terms of theory isn't so terrible. If you breezed through the Intro test and feel like you got 95-100% of the questions right, then you could probably pass theory after another 2-3 months of studying.
Tasting/service is another thing entirely. For both of those parts of the test, your work experience factors in heavily. In service, if you work at a restaurant(using a tray, pouring & opening wine tableside, etc) then you're halfway there. If you don't, then there's a lot of work ahead of you. In tasting, go to the testable varieties page on the website. If you've been tasting wine as a buyer for years, and you're familiar with all the possible wines, then you're close. If not, take a year or two to taste the classic wines many times, both blind and with the label out.
As far as how to study, there's so much helpful biz posted on the forums here if you do a little digging.
That's my two cents.
Like others have said, it's a substantial jump from Intro to Certified. I actually studied and passed my WSET 3, then took the intro and Certified exams. I'm not sure I would have passed the theory portion of the Certified exam without knowledge beat into my head from the WSET 3 study. That being said, my suggestion is to concentrate on what you think might be your weakest spot (tasting, theory, or service), and focus on that. The Certified exam is a 1-day exam: tasting, followed by theory, followed by service.
I thought the jump to Certified was substantial. And even if you open wine for a living, make sure you service is in line with the Court.
One of the things I did for Certified was to draw maps. I am a horrible artist, but it really helped with geography and theory.
Also I recommend not checking your theory answers while waiting for the service exam. Just assume you crushed it and go in with confidence.
Curious as to what kind of curve balls can they throw at you during service? Would they refuse a bottle during service to test your reaction, or do they just quiz you on what you know about the wine you are serving?
When you say "testable varieties page", which website are you referring? I am assuming not this one...thank you
White grapes: https://www.mastersommeliers.org/sites/default/files/Certified%20Examinable%20Grapes%20%26%20Growing%20Regions%20WHITE-June_2016_0.pdf
Found here: https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resources