So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tag Archives: Master of Wine

“Don’t be scared of the sommelier”

A nice article about how to take advantage of the sommelier, written by Nashville’s only sommelier (as far as I know, she’s the only one).

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110216/LIFE02/102160313/On-Wine-Don-t-scared-sommelier?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CEntertainment%7Cs

Statistically speaking, most restaurant guests will never interact with a sommelier. There can’t be more than 1% of all restaurants in America that employ the services of a sommelier, and I think that 1% is probably being generous. And most people won’t dine at a French Laundry or Aureole.  Nashville is lucky to have a pair of restaurants that are moderately priced and still have a sommelier (F. Scott’s and Table 3). This is only possible because Loehr is a co-owner of those restaurants and happens to be an über wine geek who has received her Advanced Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers, which puts her one step away from getting her Master Sommelier Certificate (there are only 120 people in the US who have received that certification). 

I place so much emphasis on wine knowledge because, in most restaurants, waiters must take on the role of the sommelier. Even if you work at Applebee’s and only need a limited wine knowledge, you won’t always work at Applebee’s if you intend on staying in the business. So you should start learning as much about wine as you possibly can. You will never know everything about wine even if you’re waiting tables for 40 years. It’s a matter of constant attention and there’s always more to learn. Every vintage, every blend, every vineyard, every region is different. In fact, there are infinite variations in each individual region. There are new processes, new trends, new vintners. This requires staying as on top of the wine world as you can.

Waiters will never have the resources that true sommeliers have. Sommeliers taste every wine that they serve. They do comparative tastings with other like wines. They meet with wine representatives almost daily. They are fed huge amounts of information about currently produced wines. Waiters only get a sprinkling of this massive amounts of information. So it’s extremely important to take advantage of the information that trickles through the sommelier or person responsible for the wine program, whether it be tear sheets about specific wines, tastings or staff meetings with wine reps. And, there’s an additional burden on waiters to maintain an independent study program.

You can’t be a great waiter without this knowledge. You can’t be expected to know everything, but you should be able to advise  and educate your guests, without being a Wine Nazi, in choosing the perfect wine from your list with the food that they will be eating. I hope that you use this blog to help in this process. I have written about wine on occasion and, even though the amount of coverage that I can give wine is limited, I think that some of my thumbnail sketches can help distill knowledge from the wide world of wine. Just search for wine and you’ll find a dozen or more articles about commonly available wines. I hope to continue this series as I go forward. What I try to do is give practical information and be as complete as I can in this format. I can’t really cover the subject like a dedicated wine website or book, but I can try to give the information that helps when trying to guide a guest in their dining experience. I try not to clutter my articles with so much information that it becomes unwieldy. I try to simplify as much as possible while still imparting the essence of the subject.

Elise Loehr

Master of Wine

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What is a Master of Wine?

It is a certification of profound knowledge of wine, granted by the Institute of Masters of Wine, after at least 3 years of study. It’s based in the UK, which unsurprisingly has the most Masters of Wine by a long shot. The time frame is often much longer however, as a MW (and it is abbreviated as a title after ones name) requires an encyclopedic knowledge of the wine trade. As a measure of the difficulty of attaining this certification, there are only 26 MWs currently in the US and only 275 (or 273, depending on which figure you accept) in the entire world. Another barrier to obtaining this certification is the cost of the program. A US citizen will pay a minimum of $7800 for three years ($2600 a year), and this doesn’t guarantee passage within the three year period. There are other additional and associated costs involved as well.

A potential candidate must pass at least one part of the three part testing program within three tries. Candidates must also have 5 years of experience in some facet of the wine trade.

If you see the MW listed after an author’s name, you can be assured of a total command of all aspects of the wine world. This doesn’t mean that their opinion is sacrosanct though.

This accodae isn’t to be confused with such other titles as Master Sommelier or any other such titles. There is only one Master of Wine.

For more information about the Institute or the program, go here:

http://www.mastersofwine.org/

Cookbook of the day – An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France

the_wines_and_domaines_of_france


An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France: France’s Top Domains and Their Wines


by Clive Coates MW (Master of Wine)



Publisher Mitchell Beazley; illustrated edition edition (October 1, 2005)


ISBN 10: 1840009926


ISBN 13: 978-1840009927



I have the original edition of this book (2000), which has the above pictured cover. It has been updated and sports a different cover.


If you want the best view of France’s vine world, this is the ticket, albeit somewhat expensive if you buy it new. Coates covers every appellation, including Corsica, and drills down into the important characterizations of each. He highlights the important growers and négociants using a 3-star system of grading.


There are copious maps and charts, but no photographs or other illustrations (at least in the 2000 edition).


Well-written and entertaining in its rather dry and low-key fashion, this book is indispensable for any reasonable wine library. Highly recommended despite the rather high price.