Guild of Sommeliers

  • Ampelography: The Art of Vine Identification

    By Tina Caputo

    Thanks to DNA testing, anyone can identify a mysterious vine simply by sending a sample off to the lab. But for Virginia-based vineyard consultant Lucie Morton, a world-renowned ampelographer, it’s still crucial to know how to distinguish vines the old-fashioned way: by sight and touch.

    It took Morton years to learn ampelography, a skill that few viticulturists in today’s high-tech world still work to…

    • Oct 12, 2016
  • The Wines of Central Friuli

    An in-depth report by Daniel Bjugstad of Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, CO.

    Friuli Venezia Giulia, the border region between Italy’s Veneto and the neighboring countries of Slovenia and Austria, has been divided amongst empires for nearly two thousand years. The Romans, Huns, Goths, Lombards, Venetians, French, Austrians, Italians and Yugoslavs have all laid claim to the region at some point in history, and each culture…

    • May 21, 2015
  • Winetasting Terminology - The Poetry and the Prose

    The purpose of each of the charts below is to link the chemical causes of distinctive wine aromas to the potential descriptions we can use to describe these elements. Each class of aromatic compound is explained in more detail in our Science of Tasting Expanded Guide.

    Special thanks to Madeline Puckette from for working with us on these graphics.

    Fruit, flower, and herb:

    • Many fruity aromas and lightly…
    • Apr 2, 2015
  • Organic, Biodynamic, and Natural Wines Explained

    By Ronan Sayburn MS
    A version of this article originally appeared in print in the pages of 
    Imbibe UK.

    While judging at a recent Sommelier competition I saw a lot a varied answers to the question "Explain the differences between Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines." It’s a good question and one that guests may well ask, so hopefully this article could help clear up some of the confusion. With all three,…

    • Feb 6, 2015
  • Somm Camp 2014

    Top 13 Things We Learned at Somm Camp

    This past November the Guild of Sommeliers hosted our second annual Somm Camp, bringing 12 American and Canadian CMS-certified sommeliers to Napa Valley and Sonoma County for a three-day immersion in winemaking and viticulture. For making this incredible opportunity a reality, we are very grateful to our sponsors: Jackson Family Wines' Spire Collection (including Vérité, Lokoya,…

    • Dec 9, 2014
  • Transitioning from the Floor


    Moving from the sommelier world to the supply side.

    When Matt (Stamp) asked me to write this article, my gut reaction was: “Sure, no problem.” Why?  Because that’s my general response to things in my life in the distribution of beverage alcohol. Call it wine, call it liquor, call it saké—whatever you want to call it, in distribution it’s all beverage alcohol. And it’s my job to distribute it. What follows…

    • Dec 5, 2014
  • Languedoc: GoS Report 2014

    In July 2014, the Guild of Sommeliers sent six members—Amanda McCrossinNadia Pavleska, John Freitas, William Moss, Daniel Bjugstad, and Eric Entrikin MS—to Languedoc in Southern France to experience this rapidly evolving wine region. Following is their report.

    Languedoc: Then and Now
    Eric Entrikin MS

    What can you say about a region that has a 2,600-year-long history of vine cultivation, yet everything current…

    • Sep 10, 2014
  • Cariñena: Guild of Sommeliers Report 2014

    The Guild of Sommeliers sent six members to Cariñena DO/DOP in the spring of 2014 to discover this unexplored region in northeastern Spain, and report back on its wines, culture, and potential. Following is their story.

    Andrew Rastello

    Coming out of passing my Advanced Exam in April, I wasn’t sure my high could get much, well, higher… but days later, I received notice that I’d been awarded the travel scholarship…

    • Aug 7, 2014
  • Savoie & Switzerland: Guild of Sommeliers Report 2014

    In June 2014, Liz Dowty (New Orleans), Ryan Totman (Corkbuzz, NYC), Victoria James (Marea, NYC) and Master Sommeliers Laura Maniec and Geoff Kruth traveled to Switzerland and the Savoie. Following is a report on the region from Victoria James.

    “I’m not leaving this country until I taste some Vin de Glacier,” Liz announced.

    Ryan’s eyes widened as he described this “unicorn” wine of Switzerland that we…

    • Jul 16, 2014
  • Italy Video Series

    We have posted these individually in the forums, but here are our recent documentaries on three regions of Italy. Keep an eye out for a French series around the end of the year.

    • Mar 10, 2014
  • Guild of Sommeliers Chile Report 2013

    In the fall of 2013, several Guild sommeliers accompanied Fred Dexheimer MS on a trip to Chile, sponsored by Wines of Chile. Following are their observations about Chilean wines and wine culture today.

    Overall Impressions


    When I first learned that I had earned this trip to Chile, I felt almost guilty because I originally thought that there would be so many people who would have a more interesting time…

    • Jan 24, 2014
  • Guild of Sommeliers "Spire Sommelier Summit" 2013 Report

    In early November, the Guild of Sommeliers invited ten candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers' 2014 Advanced Exam to spend three days in Napa and Sonoma counties. The event's primary sponsor was Jackson Family Estates' Spire Collection, and the trip to wine country included visits to some of the portfolio's top wineries, including Vérité and Cardinale, and some excellent stops in the vineyards of Howell Mountain…

    • Dec 8, 2013
  • Alto Adige: Guild of Sommeliers Report 2013

    In September 2013, the Guild of Sommeliers sent several of our members to the region of Alto Adige for an immersion in its culture and wines. Following is their collective report on the region.

    Versoaln: “The Oldest Vine in the World”
    By Mark Thostesen

    A long, twisting drive up winding mountain roads provides vistas of sunset-drenched vineyards and foggy apple orchards. Alexandra, our local guide, speaks animatedly…

    • Oct 21, 2013
  • "The Beautiful South" London 2013 Trade Tasting: Overall Impressions / Top South African Producers

    "The Beautiful South" trade tasting was held this past week in London, featuring hundreds of producers from three countries of the Southern Hemisphere: South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. Wines of South Africa (WOSA) generously paid for three Master Sommeliers and 16 other members of the Guild of Sommeliers to travel to London for the event. We asked for a full report from the three Masters and comments from all Guild…

    • Sep 21, 2013
  • ConfEUsion: A Quick Summary of the EU Wine Reforms

    We’ve all had that customer.  The one who wants to know wine, but is still hung up by the “Is Burgundy a grape or a region?” question.  It’s easy to get frustrated at the simplicity of questions like these, but the central idea remains the same.  The sheer memorization required to make sense of the modern wine world proves to be something of a Sisyphean task.  Within the United States, this problem…

    • Oct 5, 2012
  • An Interview with Dr. Carole Meredith

    In November 2011, we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Carole Meredith, Professor Emerita in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California at Davis.  We discussed her work in the field of grape genetics, the recent history of ampelography, and her own project, Lagier Meredith Vineyard in Napa Valley, which she owns with her husband Steve Lagier.


    Guild: Dr. Meredith, as a professor at UC…

    • Jan 12, 2012
  • Favorite New Releases of 2011 from the TOP|SOMM Finalists

    With the year drawing to a close, we asked our 2011 TOP|SOMM and Top New Somm finalists to highlight five favorite, impactful new releases from the past year, regardless of price.  Selections from each finalist are not listed in any particular order.  Price is approximate retail, with importers in parenthesis where appropriate.

    Ian Cauble (The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay, CA) TOP|SOMM 2011

    1. Jean Paul Brune, Terres Doree…
    • Dec 28, 2011
  • "Global Warming: What are the Winemakers Doing About it?" by Clive Coates

    Out there in the real world beyond the damask, the Riedel and the head chefs' egos there may still be a few who believe that the world is flat. There are certainly those who, astonishingly enough in view of the contrary scientific evidence, persist in believing in Intelligent Design, whom we used to call Creationists. There may indeed be some left who still consider it a good idea to sell arms to corrupt and oppressive…

    • Oct 8, 2011
  • "I like to break all of the structures": An Interview with Susana Balbo

    I had the opportunity to sit down with one of Argentina's best-known winemakers, Susana Balbo, for a great lunch and flight of wines in Mendoza this past January.  Opinionated, headstrong, and bold: Susana epitomizes the Argentinean spirit and her wines enjoy great success in the USA.  She pioneered the new "classic" style of Torrontes, and was happy to answer a few questions about the grape, her life's work, and wine…

    • Aug 27, 2011
  • La renaissance de la vallée du Rhône Nord

    La renaissance de la vallée du Rhône Nord: A Fresh Look at Vineyards of Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph
    by Eric Railsback

    Things have changed in the Northern Rhône.  It used to be all about the “Big Dogg” wines of ‘La Landonne’, ‘La Chapelle’ and ‘Le Meal’.  Now it is all about the little vigneron, working his small plot of land less-traveled.  Small families…

    • Jul 8, 2011
  • Interview with Stefano Campatelli, director of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

    The Guild had the chance to conduct a short interview with Stefano Campatelli, current director of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino.  He weighs in on proposed changes to Rosso DOC legislation, the recent Brunello scandal, and other topics.  At the conclusion of the interview we've published Stefano's notes on the last ten vintages for Brunello di Montalcino.  

    How would you, in general, differentiate…

    • Jun 23, 2011
  • Gerard Basset, MS MW: An Interview with 2010's Best Sommelier in the World

    The Guild of Sommeliers is kicking off our new series of sommelier interviews with one of the best, Gerard Basset, MS MW, winner of the 2010 World Sommelier Championship.  Gerard is the President of the European Court of Master Sommeliers, and he owns Hotel TerraVina in the UK with his wife Nina.  Gerard's full bio, along with his complete list of accomplishments in the wine world, can be found on his website, http…

    • May 13, 2011
  • An Interview with Mike Officer: Old Vines, Zinfandel and California's Viticultural Heritage

    Mike Officer, Owner and Winemaker of Carlisle Winery & Vineyards, is one of California's premier producers of Old Vine Zinfandel, Syrah, and more.  Mike is passionately committed to the preservation of old vine sources in Sonoma County, and is a founding member of the Historic Vineyard Society.  We recently sat down with Mike to talk about the value of these historic vines.


    What does the term “Old Vines” mean to…

    • Apr 27, 2011
  • Reflections on Alcohol and Balance in California Pinot by John Haeger

    Reflections on Alcohol and Balance in California Pinot – A Short Q&A with Myself


    Plaints about very ripe-picked, extracted and high-alcohol wines -- from somms, retailers, members of the wine press and yes, even some consumers -- may not yet have reached choral dimensions, but their frequency does seem to be increasing, and a disproportionate share of the unrest seems associated with pinot noir.  Last year Jim…

    • Apr 18, 2011