Pinheads, part two: MW, CS, MS, CSET, STFU

October 26, 2011 · 9 comments

Dear newly “certified” Winebuyer,

Yes, I see your pin. I saw it the first day we met, when you handed two business cards to me… One from your place of employment, which listed you as “Floor Manager” and one that you personally had made that listed you as “Certified Sommelier”. And you’ve worn that pin every day we’ve met since then. It’s quickly losing it’s luster for me though, in more ways than just it’s shine.

I shudder each time you mispronounce a winery name, not to mention entire regions. Every week we speak on the phone and you order 3 more cases of that “Coasts day Nwits” you pour by the glass, and I die a little inside. “What’s that?” I say… “You mean the Code-un- Whee?” I try to slip in the correct pronunciation so that you hardly notice but will hopefully absorb it, and then the next time you order, we begin again. Same song and dance. And it wouldn’t be so bad if it was just one or two wineries, I suppose… But when it is entire MAJOR winegrowing regions and when it’s basically every third foreign word or name that comes out of your mouth, it makes me want to cry. There’s an app for that, by the way. It’s called Google Translate. Check it out. Or even better, ask your rep how to pronounce it. And listen to her when she tries to correct you. Otherwise, you look like a jackass tableside when you’re trying to sell that Macon you keep calling “Mason”.

You’ve mentioned a few times how everyone tried to hold you down and talk you out of this Somm thing and against all odds, you and a friend spent ridiculous sums of money on wine to research/taste/cram for your examinations. I don’t really get what these odds are though… I understand you’re from a small town, and that maybe most people in that town don’t give a hoot about wine but still… I mean, really… the only thing holding anyone back from pursuing some sort of Sommelier certification should they feel the urge would be the money, or their own personal principles, I suppose. Unless maybe they were missing half a tongue or their sense of smell. Now THAT would be a success story. “Man With Half a Tongue Receives MS Certification.” Then I’d be impressed.

And then there’s the inevitable pissing match you try to have with me each time I pour you a wine. Take for instance that Spätburgunder I poured for you last week (I didn’t even want to tempt fate on that one, so I poured it and said, “And here is a Pinot Noir from Germany”)… you reply, “Yeah, this is a nice German Pinot, but I’ve tried about 50 or so others from Germany in my studies, and I’ve decided that I don’t really like the Pinots coming out of the Puh-falls region.” Puh-falls? Where is Puh- falls? OH you mean PFALZ! Pronounced “Faltz”? And really, kid? 50? You’ve been a winebuyer for all of 8 months. So I know you didn’t taste 50 of them during your tenure here. And before that, you lived in a tiny town with crap wineshops. I’ve been there. There’s no way you found any German Pinot Noir anywhere within 100 miles of that town. And even in a large American city, the odds of finding more than 20 offerings of Spätburgunder are slim. I’m finding it hard to believe that you shipped in 50 German Pinot Noirs from around the country to prepare for your Level 2 Certification through the CSET system. And if you did? Man, that’s just a pathetic waste of money. And have I mentioned how I hate the way you pronounce Pinot? “Pin-KNOW” as in the first two syllable of “Pinocchio”, annunciation on the second syllable. Like nails on a chalkboard to me. Can you see the pain etched in my face? Hopefully my fake smile is semi-convincing.

Okay, but let’s say that you did find 50 different bottlings of Spätburgunder to sample. I’m assuming that if your samplings of that one country were that in depth, you would do the same for other regions… (unless, that is, you just really had that much trouble grasping the intricacies of the Pinot Noir grape when grown in Germany… you just had to keep trying more of them…) then SHIT, that is a LOT of money you’ve spent on your research. Not to mention the costs of the Level One and Level Two exams. And yet you’ve never been out of the country. You’ve never set foot in a German Weingut (please don’t try to say that word, just spare me). You could have spent all that money on a trip to Europe. And then maybe you could have learned some rules of pronunciation for each country you visited. Your predecessors here at your illustrious establishment, those other “Floor Managers” who also did the winebuying? None of them had any sort of certification. And come to think of it, none of them had much difficulty remembering pronunciation… so you could have had this same job.. even without your pin… only you might have had a better grasp on not only pronunciation, but also on what it felt like to actually stand in those vineyards, in the wineries, with the winemakers, with the regional cuisine and the regional history and all that culture that you just can’t glean from flashcards and bottles of wine found on

And maybe, just maybe, you’d be less of a blowhard in my eyes. But you wouldn’t have that pin…

Wine Rep

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