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Hi. I hope at least one of you could offer advice. I am in the intermediate stages of earning my wine diploma and some certificates. I already have the cert. with SOmm Soc of Am.

I signed up for the Introductory level 2-day course with Court of Master Sommeliers, whereas there is a test and blind tasting on day 2. The only guidance and direction I was given by the Court is a list of 7-8 wine books to read.

Have any of you taken their courses? Can someone narrow it down at least a little as to which books are important for which levels? I have been in education for over 10 years and this is the first time I have been given no direction on courses exam success any further than a suggested list of wine books.

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I believe the Introductory Course (Level 1) is only a theory exam given on the second day--no blind tasting. The Certified Exam (Level 2) is where blind tasting begins. The intro exam is mainly an introduction to wine theory/geography/tasting/service and to the Court of Master Sommeliers mindset. If you have a certification from the SSA, you probably will have no problems with the theory on this exam. Be prepared to take good notes, ask some questions, and have fun. Unfortunately, the intro exam is a must to move into the higher level exams.
John -

I can verify what the other poster said - I just took the Introductory class 9-10 June 2007, and there is no blind tasting testing component. There is a 70-question BROAD survey exam at the end - if you pass you get a certificate that says that you passed the Intro class, and CMS pin. And a glass of champagne at the end of our class, at least. Smile

I would recommend the Sotheby's Encyclopedia of wine - read the introduction to each chapter, as they recommend. You will not need to bring this to class (it's alot to lug around). The actual text for the class is Sales and Service for the Wine Professional, and you will receive a copy of this when you arrive.

To pass the exam - pay attention and take notes. They make a REAL effort to get everyone to pass. Whenever they tell you something is important, write it down, then study that list. I realize that everyone has different testing abilities, but honestly, if you do that, I don't see how you could not pass. But about 10% do not, so there you go. In the end, I had a list of about 65 things that they stressed were important, and there are 70 questions on the test. Not hard to figure that out.

The course introduces the process of blind tasting, and you learn to break it down into the steps that you would need to follow if you were really being tested. They really focus on walking through each step to train yourself on how to identify wine origins. Overall, I think that we tasted 22 wines over the course of the weekend. This exercise was extremely helpful.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions. I am not in the wine/service industry, just an avid consumer at this point. The course just really opened my eyes to all there is to know and learn.
Thank you Faye. I find the blind tastings to be very hard. Thanks for the suggestions on the Introductory class. I'll read up on the Sotheby's chapter introductions as you suggest. I did not know there is no blind tasting on the introductory one. I hope I get to also hear from people who took the Court of Mast. Somm at the certification level.
In the blind tastings, they stressed that, when being tested, you will get points for whatever you are able to identify. Deducing a varietal, region and relative age are all additional points. So you want to aim for 3 fruit descriptors and at least 1 non-fruit descriptor for each.

Study the main varietals and their significant identifiers. One source I find helpful is the 'What Am I Drinking?' and the 'Name That Wine Game' on the WS Site helpful for quizzing myself. Studying with a Nez du Vin, or a version that you make yourself, will also help.

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