After some 70 master sommelier candidates from 20 states and two countries hit the books for months, tasted, spit and subjected their palates to a barrage of familiar and obscure wines, only one of them came home with the coveted Master Sommelier Diploma this year. He is Nick Hetzel from Sage restaurant at Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
To achieve the title master sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers is, obviously, no mean feat. Candidates must have successfully passed three previous stages: the Introductory, Certified and Advanced exams.
According to a release from the Court of Master Sommeliers, the invitation-only Master Sommelier Diploma Exam "consists of three sections, including a theory examination, blind tasting and practical service component." To earn the master sommelier title, candidates have to receive passing scores in all three. The exam was held in Dallas two weeks ago.
Greg Harrington, chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, said in a statement: "On behalf of the entire Court, I want to deeply and sincerely applaud the efforts of all the candidates who had the courage to take the Masters' Exam. It's an honor to be in their presence, and just getting to the exam is an immense achievement. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the journeys of these amazing men and women, and I look forward to the day that each and every one of them achieves their goal of becoming a Master Sommelier."
To see what the candidates put themselves through preparing for the exam, watch Jason Wise's recent film "Somm." It may still be in some theaters, but is also available to watch on iTunes. You may never approach a glass of wine in the same way again.
It's worth knowing that since the Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 and the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam was held in the United States in 1987, only 134 candidates have passed. (There are just 202 professionals with the title worldwide.)
For this exam, it's try, try and try again.