Tag archive for » Court of Master Sommeliers «

World Premiere of “SOMM” & More

Tuesday, 23. October 2012 5:25

One of the featured sommelier candidates from "SOMM.'' (Still courtesy of the filmmakers)

An Insider’s Look at the Rigorous Master Sommelier Exam

Anyone who’s a fan of wine will be drawn to the new documentary, “SOMM,” which will hold its world premiere Nov. 7 at the 2nd annual Napa Valley Film Festival at the Napa Valley Opera House.

The Master Sommelier exam is one of the most grueling around. Fewer than 200 people around the world have passed it. The film by Jason Wise follows four people as they prepare for the examination.

Bay Area folks will recognize some familiar faces in the film, including Chef Michael Mina, Sommelier Rajat Parr, Winemaker Bo Barrett, wine legend Fred Dame and Master Sommelier Reggie Narito.

Another candidate opening a bottle of Beaujolais. (Still courtesy of the filmmakers)

The filmmaker will be on hand at the fest, as well as the featured sommeliers. They also will be guests at the gala at Robert Mondavi Winery on Nov. 8.

Single-day passes are $50 to $60; a festival pass for five days of access, Nov. 7-11, is $250. A $500 Pass Plus gets you five days of screenings, plus access to the gala and wrap parties.

For a taste of what the film is all about, take a peek at the trailer: SOMM

Forget the Popcorn, Enjoy Italian Food Instead at Redd Wood

To tie in with the Napa Valley Film Festival, Redd Wood in Yountville will be featuring its rendition of the famous timpano from the classic film, “Big Night.”

The timpano di macceroni, a huge domed pie of baked pasta, meatballs, sausages and tomato sauce, will be available during the entire run of the festival, Nov. 6-11.

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Wine 101 at the International Culinary Center in Campbell

Friday, 17. August 2012 5:25

My class "assignments'' at the International Culinary Center wine class.

To get in the mood for this post, open a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass, take a well deserved sip, then see if you can answer the following:

A) What are the three grape varietals typically used in the making of Champagne?

B) What common drug store item can help rid your wine glasses and decanters of red-wine stains?

C) Cool climate growing regions produce white wines with a tinge of what specific color?

D) What unusual aroma is often associated with Australian and New Zealand Pinot Noirs?

Over the course of a week, I learned the answers (find them at the bottom of this post) to these questions and so much more as a student in the “Wine Foundation” class at the International Culinary Center in Campbell.

The class, which I was invited to take gratis as a guest of the school, stretched over seven nights for four hours at a time. I figured by the end of it, I’d either be an expert or totally tipsy.

Fortunately, it was bordering more on the former. Although, I’d taken one or two wine classes before, they were more truncated. Getting the opportunity to take such an intensive and comprehensive class really gave me a grasp on wines like never before. Indeed, over seven days, we learned not only how wine is made, but wine-tasting techniques, what goes into wine service at a restaurant, the basics of food and wine pairing (complete with food prepared by culinary students), and an overview of what varietals are found around the world.

Our classroom.

It says a lot that the ICC is the first school to ever be approved by the renowned Court of Master Sommeliers. How rigorous is the process for becoming one? Consider that only 3 percent who take the final exam to become a master actually pass — and that’s usually after failing on multiple previous attempts.

Our instructor was a certified Master Sommelier, one of only 197 in the world: Jesse Becker, who began his sommelier career at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, most recently put together the wine program at AQ restaurant in San Francisco, and runs his own wine importing business, PWMWINE.com.

Jesse Becker, one of only 197 Master Sommeliers in the world, pulling bottles from the cellar for us to try

There were 10 of us in this particular class, only one of whom was a man. Most had high-tech backgrounds of some sort, too. A few were toying with career changes, but more were there just to educate themselves about a topic that’s long fascinated their palate and mind.

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