A Sommelier Guidebook is an introductory work for students who wish to further their knowledge of wine, beer and spirits. The text covers the information required for early level sommelier programs, as well as restaurant beverage management in general. The art of tasting, vineyard establishment, and wine making practices are touched upon before a tour of the fascinating world of wine is undertaken. All of the major growing regions are covered with an easy to read style that helps to simplify the subject for the student. The depth of each topic is carefully chosen with the beginning sommelier course requirements in mind. This approach helps to avoid overwhelming the reader with cumbersome detail and unnecessary information. The book functions both as a teaching tool and as a reference that enables readers to investigate wines and regions as they come across them during their everyday wine enjoyment. The list of topics covered includes history, grape varietals, wine making styles, food pairing, spirit making, mixology, cocktail recipes, setting up a beverage program and more. The primary focus and goal of the text is to teach students to read and recognize labels in order to develop the ability to anticipate the grape(s) and style of bottles on store shelves or restaurant wine lists. Several hundred labels are included in the text for self testing and practice to enhance this ability. There are quizzes after each major section which serve as examples of the questions typically posed during sommelier testing.
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Author's Note: I am a Certified Sommelier, having taken and passed two of the four level exams of the Court of Master Sommeliers. I did this over the course of three days about six years ago because, having been largely self-taught throughout my hospitality career, I wanted to see how the official wine people do things. These days I work as the wine sommelier at a private golf club and take on as students members of the staff who want to prepare for the first level exam. I enjoy that mentor-student relationship, and have found myself succumbing to pride when one of my students has called or texted me excited and relieved after passing their first sommelier exam. Until we’ve experienced it, we can’t imagine the nerve wracking adrenaline rush of hearing our names called to receive that first pin. That option is open for anyone, by the way. It simply requires signing up on-line for a place and dates to attend the sessions, downloading a workbook that outlines the areas to study, and finding a source to complement that outline, be it on-line investigation, a book or teacher. The thought process for approaching this is not unlike those vows we make to ourselves to spend six months getting into shape or losing weight. Set the goal, gather the materials, and invest a few months to accomplish something that will enrich a life. In fact, I can pretty much promise that our love of wine will stay with us much longer than that weight will stay off of us. In the past I've had to dig through old writing I did as long as 30 years ago in order to provide them study materials. This year I’ve gathered writing I’ve done for wine classes over the years and created this text to help my students prepare. This layout roughly follows a sommelier class outline. It provides enough information to pass the written exams for the entry levels. A quick scan ahead will reveal the use of highlighting to make key terms quickly identifiable for review before an exam. There will also be quizzes at the end of most sections to give examples of questions found on the exams. The book is also meant to be a guide for those students who pursue a career in beverage management in general. For that purpose there are sections on establishing beverage programs, wine and beverage lists, buying, costing, storing and serving. A section on liquor types and how they are made will include some basics of mixology.
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