The Court of Master Sommeliers, which conducts exams each year to award several levels of distinction in the realm of wine-tasting mastery, inducted only four new members this week, out of 63 who took the masters' exam. The Master Sommelier Diploma is considered the highest honor for all North American wine professionals, and it is only now held by 122 people, including this week's four newest inductees.
Alas, of those 122, only seventeen are women, and their ranks won't be rising this time around. Our nation's four newest master sommeliers are Dennis Kelly of the French Laundry in Yountville; Roland Micu, most recently of Coi in San Francisco; Sabato Sagaria of the Little Nell in Aspen; and Thomas Price of the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle. In order to achieve this honor, each man had to accurately identify the grape varietal, country of origin and appelation or producer, and the vintage (within a year or two) of a bunch of wines in a blind tasting. There's also some stuff about food pairing, describing wine, and choosing glassware, and it's all crazy difficult.
Congrats to all, and better luck next time to the other 59 people who didn't quite make it this year.