Below is the trailer for the new movie Somm, which explores the "massively intimidating" Master Sommelier Exam. Eater National has the details, but basically, the film follows four plucky sommeliers as they gear up for the ultimate wine professional's challenge; they include Brian McClintic (Caveau Wine Bar, Santa Barbara), DLynn Proctor (Horned Toad Wines, Napa), Dustin Wilson (Eleven Madison Park, New York City), and Ian Cauble (United States Ambassador to Krug Champagne).
Thomas Price, MS and head sommelier/wine and spirits educator at Metropolitan Grill is one of five Master Sommeliers in Washington, and one of only 197 in the world who have earned the MS certificate. He attended the screening of the film's world premiere in Napa last year (of course he did) and has this to say about it:
It was really accurate. In fact, it was so accurate that a couple of people became sort of queasy and had to leave the room — people who had not yet passed and were going through the amount of pressure that the exam brings.
Price says he expects Washington to produce another MS after the next round of testing in about two weeks.
Now, about that test. Price explains the three prongs:
Service: "It's sort of a role-play and you're serving wine in a restaurant setting, but it's really, really rigorous and difficult; you're properly opening champagne, you're properly decanting red wine over a candle, and then you're getting asked some really difficult questions. Your technique and demeanor have to be perfect, you're getting very much grilled when you're doing the service part."
Theory: "It's not a pen-and-paper test. You're basically sitting in a room with a glass of water and three Master Sommeliers fire questions at you. Your recall has to be insane. You get about 10 seconds to answer each question and if you don't get it right, you don't get it right."
"The last component, which is the sexy one, the 25 minutes of glory, is you walk into a room and you've got three whites and three reds in a glass and in 25 minutes have to correctly identify the grape varietal, the country of origin, the district, the region, the quality level and the vintage of each wine."
Price says a passing grade is 75-percent: "That may not sound like much, but it's a lot when your nerves come into play...it's a lot."