Service Experience

I passed the CMS Intro Exam in September of last year. Since then I’ve been studying and preparing for the certified exam. Eventually one day I’d like to even tackle the Master Exam but I know that’s a long way off. My major issue currently is that I live in a small town in Florida. There isn’t much of a wine culture here at all. No tasting or study groups no real wine shops to speak of. There aren’t even any restaurants that have sommeliers. Aside from moving (which isn’t really an option at the moment) what can I do to help gain the necessary service experience I need to help me succeed in future exams? Isn’t it true that the Court requires 5 years of restaurant experience to even attempt the Advanced Exam? I know becoming a Master Sommelier is an incredibly difficult task, but it seems even more daunting when you’re trying to do it alone.

  • Probably not an easy task, but what about commuting to Destin a few days a week?

    Captain Anderson's is a long way from Fine Dining, but working with their wine cellar certainly won't hurt your knowledge and development selling wine. They've got some shocking bottles tucked away for a turn-and-burn tourist seafood joint. 

    Finally, travel. Go eat in great restaurants. Experience great wine service and hospitality until you can get yourself to a place where you can be on the other side of it. 

  • Opening bottles at home and practicing just with yourself and can help a lot from my experience.  Watch Bobby Stuckey’s videos on YouTube over and over. 

  • Even if it's only Woodbridge Reserve and La Marca Prosecco, reps are reps and all reps are helpful so long as they're done mindfully.

  • Alys Beach is a 45 minute drive away and has a few great restaurants that would help you along the way.  You don't need to live in a large market, have a study group, etc. to pursue this. 

    Start small and get in a restaurant with someone who knows more than you.  If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

    Beyond that read anything you can get your hands on.  Start your own group.  We started ours with 4 people that traveled 3 hours once a month to taste.  It's now over 40 plus people and we've had 10+ pass certified, 2 pass advanced, and 1 sitting for MS Theory.  It's doable, will it take more work, sure.  Create the culture you need.  The wine culture in Austin started with a few people starting a tasting group.