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Posted: Monday, 26 August 2019 09:49

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Court of Master Sommeliers (MS) clears five for the Top Honour

August 26: There have been 5 new Master Sommeliers clearing the exam for the final Diploma, held in Austria for the second year, with a Bulgarian debuting in the list, Germany getting its first MS and a 24 year young Japanese making hts mark for the most coveted title in the wine industry, writes Subhash Arora who believes it may be extremely difficult to be MS working in India but even the second level of Certified Sommelier would be credit to any sommelier

When I went to the US after finishing my B. Tech (Elect Engg.) from IIT Delhi, after a year in Germany, the focus was to get a degree in MS in Industrial Engineering. It was a couple of decades later when I started drinking and self-studying wine that I realized that MS stood not only for Master of Science but had also been appropriated as Master Sommelier.

After a drought last year, 5 out of the 18 candidates have cleared the ultimate exam to become an MS in 2019, according to the results announced by the Court on Saturday, 17 August. According to Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe, never have this number passed in one go, at least for some time. The pass percentage averages 4% but the aspirants are tenacious and just don’t give up.’

Results are historic in that Germany has its first woman Master Sommelier. Also Bulgaria has opened its account. Interestingly, most people go through many failed attempts, but the 24- year old Toru from Japan has passed in only two attempts. Helga Schroeder, Carlos Simoes, Pierre Brunelli, Svetoslav Manolev, and Toru Takamatsu reached the top of the Summit after the final round of testing held at Stift Klosterneuburg wine school and monastery, the oldest wine estate in Lower Austria, barely 14 kms from Vienna.

The MS designation requires passing three sections- theory, tasting and practical. The practical element includes focuses on service where the candidates are put through mock service with attention to details. (That’s why the MS stream is considered more suitable for those in wine service). Somms passing the practical exam were invited to Austria for the remaining two sections. The tasting section consisted of three reds and three whites. In the blind tasting, candidates were expected to identify region, varietals, and several other key descriptors. The theory section involved an all inclusive oral exam.

The Court of Master Sommeliers, an NGO has 2 streams- in the US, with a sister chapter in the UK. The first successful  examination was held in UK in 1969. There are 165 professionals incluiding 26 women who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since inception. There are 262 professionals worldwide with MS designation after these results.

Last year training and examination facility was initiated in India also  and reported in delWine. So far we have one person-Viraj Sawant who has cleared the Advance Course and is working on the final diploma. Viraj is currently preparing for the finals and plans to take the plunge next October. For now the Brand Ambassador for CMS, is organising the next course in Mumbai in March 2020. The course is helping the Indian wine industry as the hotel chains like ITC, Marriott and the Leela, says Viraj who says that the number of students is being increased to 50 next year from the current year’s 50. Seven Sommeliers from Maldives, 4 from Dubai and 10 from India have already registered for level 1 and 2. An Advance Certified Sommelier ( you would need to go to the US or UK/Austria depending on which stream you have selected), or even a Certified Sommelier would suffice for the Indian market though we can expect to have a few MS in the not too near future

For a few of the earlier related Articles, please visit:

Austria joins US and UK for Master Sommelier Exams

Indian American Master Sommelier Alpana Singh back on Popular TV Show

Seeds for SOMM to be Sowed in India

East meets West at Taj International Vine and Food Experience

Star Interview: Gerard Basset Sommelier Restaurateur Extraordinaire

Movie Review: Making of Somm and a Master Sommelier

Easier to be a ‘Somm’ than a Master Sommelier

Subhash Arora


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