The Master Sommelier exam is an extremely difficult exam − similar to the bar exam except with an even lower passage rate. Anyone who has taken the bar exam will appreciate the enormous pressure that Master Sommelier (MS) candidates are under.
It is common knowledge that the bar exam is an extremely difficult test. It is only offered twice a year. It has a 50% passage rate in some states (if not lower – California’s rate was 40%!) It is a grueling two-day exam in most states.
The Master Sommelier test is also an extremely hard exam. It is only offered once a year. It has a super low passage rate (about 8 percent overall!). They call the Master Sommelier test “the hardest test you never heard of.” There are about 200 people who have passed the test — that is, 200 master sommeliers — in the world.
The Master Sommelier test is a three-day exam. It has a service portion, a written portion, and a tasting portion. The written portion requires extensive knowledge of wine, beer, and spirits. The Master Sommelier candidates in the documentary have thousands of flashcards to study for the written portion. The service portion requires salesmanship and the ability to serve wine to customers as well as a knowledge of what foods pair with wine. The notoriously difficult tasting portion requires candidates to taste six wines – three whites and three reds. After tasting each wine, candidates have to state the grape variety in the wines, the region that the wine came from, and the vintage of the wine.
Candidates for the Master Sommelier exam talk about how they have to become obsessed with wine and the material that they work with and make it their life in order to pass the exam. They also talk about the negative impact it has on their relationships and their families − all statements that I frequently hear my bar exam students make!
Our guess is that even if you don’t like wine, if you recently took the bar exam, you will probably relate to the MS candidates in this movie! (If you’re interested in watching the trailer to Somm, click here.)
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