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Master Sommeliers from India
By Viraj R Sawant
Back in the 1960s, the Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter.
The Court of Master Sommeliers has built its reputation as the premier examining body for Sommeliers worldwide and only around 240 candidates have earned the prestigious title of Master Sommelier over 5 decades. The letters MS are much sought after and coveted.
The first ever Introductory and Certified Course of the Court of Master Sommeliers were conducted in Mumbai. This was possible because of the efforts of Berkmann Wine Cellars India, who were proud partners of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe. This was a very important initiative for the wine industry – a course that offers the chance to learn wine professionalism from the Master Sommeliers. The Taj Lands End very quickly understood the tremendous value that this would bring to the industry and was the hospitality partner.
Master Sommeliers from India
The idea to bring this renowned CMS certification to India was to improve the level of service, the knowledge and proficiency of the candidates in the world of wines and allow them to benchmark themselves against global standards. Once our staff are trained with the standards that are accepted around the world, it will help the wine industry in India grow many times.
The response for the two courses was great. 38 students enrolled in the program, some came from Maldives, Dubai, Qatar and of course India. The eligibility for the course was that the candidates should be from the wine trade. The service background is very important for this examination, because this differentiates it from the other international certifications. All these candidates were budding sommeliers and some were more experienced and held the position of Sommelier in some of the top restaurants and hotels.
Master Sommeliers from India
A very special occasion where as many as four Master Sommeliers, Dimitri Mesnard MS, Ronan Sayburn MS, Nigel Wilkinson MS and Edouard Oger MS, came to Mumbai to host and conduct the two courses which were conducted over 2 days with intensive modules covering Restaurant Services and Salesmanship, Theoretical Knowledge and Practical Tasting. These three key skills makes the candidate a well-rounded sommelier who thinks, works and focusses on them to be a top sommelier.
Some of the topics covered are the key wine regions of the world, their grapes, climate, soil, key wines etc. Very in depth and focused. A lot of stress on the practical aspect like opening a bottle of wine/ champagne, pouring a champagne in 6 glasses without spilling etc., service of wine, taking orders, food and wine pairing, etc.
The tasting examination relies on the candidate’s verbal abilities, clearly and accurately describing six different wines tasted blind. Within the time given, (s)he must: describe the appearance, bouquet and taste and identify, where appropriate, grape varieties, country of origin, district of origin and vintage of the wines tasted. 24 wines were tasted blind. Most of them were from the Berkmann portfolio and some other typical wines were sourced from other suppliers, and some were showcased by the visiting Master Sommeliers.
Master Sommeliers from India
Of the 35 who took the exam, we had 19 passes for Level 1. 8 qualified for Level 2, and we had 5 passes. The top scorer was Mr Shrinjoy Ghosh (Assistant Head Sommelier at Hakkasan Doha). Lalit Rane, Reethesh Mohanan, Joyson Jose and Harnil Mathur were declared passed in the Certified Program. The visiting delegation of Master Sommeliers were impressed and very happy to see the results. Compared to the times that these courses were held for the first time in other countries, the results for India were “very promising”.
The next course will be held in India on the 6th, 7th and 8th of March 2019. Sommeliers, you have till then to prepare.
Viraj R Sawant has completed the Advanced Level of the MS program (one of the few Indians to have cleared this), and serves as Brand Ambassador of Berkmann Wine Cellars India.
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