A very special and heartfelt thanks goes out to Leslie Rudd! It was my great honor to be selected as one of the MS to participate in the Rudd Roundtable last weekend in Napa Valley where the some of the best and brightest talent in our industry gathered together to study and share some great information about preparing ourselves and each other for the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination and for excellence in the roles we have in our industry. For those that don't know the Roundtable is sponsored by The Leslie Rudd Educational Foundation's generous and gracious donation to the Guild of Master Sommeliers for the purposes of the advancement of students of The Court of Master Sommeliers of the Americas.
The highest scoring Advanced Exam passes of the past year and a few handpicked Master Candidates have the amazing experience to spend a couple days one on one with several MS that dedicate their time and attention to these bright professionals. Over the course of the event there were several "best study practices" identified to assist anybody interested in advancing in the industry. I was delighted to work with the team to deliver some structured classes and also some very free form panel discussions about preparing ourselves for the future. I would like to begin an ongoing dialog here focused on the study habits an best tips we can come up with as a community to help us al to embrace the rapidly changing world of wines and spirits and share the best ways to be educated, enlightened and at the top of our game as the top beverage professionals we are.
There have been several very good forums written recently about sources for pronunciation and translation, etc.. as this blog progresses we will also address those as well. It is my hope that this blog becomes the ongoing location for up to date and most recent study practices that work. So, Please add on whenever you can, when you find great information, when you do something that really works- share it!!
Ok gang, here we go. Lets talk about theory first here. While as a Master Sommelier there isn't really a way to help candidates with theory. It is all in the books, on websites and wikis and you must ferret out that information and somehow memorize it. We are all aware that there are lists of questions that we have shared and used to create our flash cards and while studying on flashcards is needed, there are more enhanced ways to weave a tapestry of information for yourself. If you were asked a question you have studied you are stoked, if it is one you don't know , you are bummed. And in an examination setting , especially a verbal exam, you may be so nervous you forget the simplest bit of information you have known for years! And remember at the Master Level we are expecting you to be able to know the information intimately, to be able to teach this info with confidence and mastery, not just struggle to answer a single question....So, I strongly suggest that you do not just ask and answer the thousand questions you have on cards... but create a web, a tapestry of data for your mind to be able to follow any of many strands of thought to remember.
Some of the best tools for this are:
I hope you can all add a few items here... lets talk more about theory and I will go onto tasting and service each in the days to come , but lets be focused and leave no stones unturned here... ( what kind of stone...? wet river rock, slate, granite?... just kidding)
My best wishes to you all!
Did a BYOB dinner at my restaurant in the private room for David Castleberry practicing for the Advanced exam in April. It was a set 4 course menu (this way, I could at least guarantee that the average check wouldn't be hurt by the BYOB with no corkage). On the back of the menu I had a bunch of questions such as a cocktails, serving temeratures, intructions for guests to ask for a wine pairing and say they didn't like the grape or produer, etc. Each customer would ask the questions at some point through their dinner which was part of the fun, they knew this when they made the reservation. I would also take their bottles and rename some of them. i.e rather than the Fluer de Cap (I labeled it with a neck lable, Palmer 01 and had the table order Palmer 01). David decanted every bottle that evening. In the end I think he decanted at least 15 bottles, some of which were really old, and opened about 5 champagne bottles, one of which was a mag. We'll probably do another one, it was fun and good for the restaurant too.