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Posted: Wednesday, 08 August 2018 07:25

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Austria joins US and UK for Master Sommelier Exams

Aug 08: The, highly respected Court of Master Sommeliers will conduct for the first time, its examination for membership as a Master Sommelier outside the UK or the US, selecting Austria for The final Diploma, to be awarded at Klosterneuburg Abbey in Lower Austria, later this month, evidencing once again the importance given to Austria as a country focused on wine education, writes Subhash Arora

For the first time in its more than 40--year history, the court will now conduct the exam outside of the UK or the USA. On 19 & 20 August, 16 international candidates will undergo the double examination at Klosterneuburg Abbey: first, six wines from anywhere in the world must be correctly analyzed and described in a blind tasting.

This will be followed by an oral theory exam encompassing questions on the entire body of knowledge relevant to wine and its service. Only those who satisfy the highest standards of the exam will be confirmed as Master Sommeliers by the examining board consisting of Master Sommeliers (MS), according to a Press Release by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

The London-based Court of Master Sommeliers is a 40-year old institution that has been granting the Master Sommelier Diploma since 1977, with the aim of offering a top qualification in matters regarding wine for individuals in the hospitality industry. The objective has been to have a comparable title for the sommeliers that is comparable to the Master of Wine.

‘Master Sommelier’ is considered the highest level for sommeliers worldwide. Only 249 individuals have successfully completed the Diploma to qualify as Master Sommelier, highly demanding Master Sommelier training. Three Austrians are already Master Sommeliers. As a contrast, we do not have a single in India yet. Only Viraj Sawant in Mumbai is currently undergoing the training to become an MS. Earlier this March, a course was conducted followed by an examination in Mumbai by visiting Masters Sommeliers from UK.

One has to watch the movie ‘Somm’ a couple of times to really grasp the grueling training one has to undergo in tasting, before joining the current 249 Somms.  Gerard Basset is one of the few, if not the only one, who has received both the Master of Wine and master Sommelier titles. Considering there are not many qualified sommeliers in India, Masters of Wine seems to be more the direction people have been taking. But with the training and facilities starting in Mumbai earlier this year through Berkmann Cellars India, this route is going to become more popular in the hospitality industry.

Getting back to Austria, it has been more and more evolved in the field of education and with Josef ‘Pepe’ Schuller, who celebrates 20th anniversary this year as a Master of Wine and who broke the tradition of having only a British MW as Chairperson of the Institute of Master of Wine, set up Austrian Wine Academy in Rust in Burgenland. It is today is one of the world’s most highly respected wine education institutes. In addition, the Sommelierunion Austria played an important  role in Austria being chosen by the Court of Master Sommeliers for the final exam.

Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) is very pleased about yet another feather in the cap of Austria. He says, ‘The fact that, for the first time, the Master Sommelier examination will be taking place here serves to confirm the extraordinary esteem that Austria enjoys among the élite of the international wine educators. We can justifiably be proud of this!’

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

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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