Stick a Cork in Me; I'm Done

How I fared on the Master Sommelier test

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I sat down to take the 70-question multiple-choice test and answered the first three questions immediately. And then, not so much. I can't reveal what any of the questions were--candidates are never told their test scores or what wines they tasted, only if they passed or failed--but I can say that they involved topics I'd never even thought about: sake, names of regions of South Africa, soil types, how to open Champagne and stuff about cigars. Even the facts I thought I knew I didn't really know when I wasn't just boring people but had to fill in the circle. Is that town in the southern Rhône or northern Rhône?

I finished in half the time allotted since it doesn't take long to make random guesses. Jordan took my test to the back of the room. He returned with a sad sommelier face. I needed only a 60%--a D--to pass. I did not get a D.

I was surprisingly upset, but as the charming Jordan and I shared dinner and a lot of wine, I started to feel better. He thought I was brave and adventurous and that he was lucky to be in my brave, adventurous presence. He made me feel like I was neither an idiot nor a phony, even though I now objectively know I am both.

Jordan gave me the 207-page Introductory Sommelier Course Workbook and offered to drive up to L.A. so I could take the test again. Wise told me that he thought a competitive person like me would probably want to continue. "The first and second exam are like getting a tattoo: you're either going to say, 'I wish I didn't get this,' or you're going to get 50 more tattoos."

I'm not sure which way I'll go. But no matter how many levels I pass, I fear I'll never be a great sommelier because I can't make people feel as good as Jordan does. Luckily, he told me, they teach that for the second-level test.

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