You can get what you want if you want it bad enough!!

In January, I had an inspiring talk with my @rovingsommelier friend Robert Giorgione and felt like I wanted to learn more about wine yet again. Being quite disappointed that I wasn’t going to start the WSET diploma (thank you very much IT audit – grrr) I was looking at a few other angles. My friend Russell decided I should go for the certified Sommelier exam – he even looked up all the details and there was one just coming up in February so I registered with the Court of Master Sommeliers. The exam was full so I was put on the waiting list and a few days later I got my place confirmed and was good to go. So far so good!! I ordered the books I needed from Amazon and was feeling quite exhilarated!

But as the books arrived my health went down hill very fast and furious. I was in and out of work, spend loads of time at the doctor and hospital where I went through quite a variety of tests… And because no-one knew what was wrong with me I also had become a nervous wreck… Me who always really enjoyed learning new things was now struggling to keep on going and work my ways through the books… However stubborn as I am, I really wanted this ticket so I stuck to it – trying not to beat myself up too much if I hadn’t quite gotten as far as I had planned to for the day.

As the exam loomed closer I started to feel confident again – except for the practical part. It had been absolute ages since I last worked a restaurant floor and I really only had my experience as a customer to go by…

I also started to get nervous for the tasting part – as I had barely had any wine since I fell sick but was hoping all the wines I had tasted in the past where going to flow back into my memory and I would be ok… I just had to stay positive:-)

So last week Thursday came way too quickly and I wasn’t feeling too sure of my cause. I went to the Hakkasan Training Centre where the exam was being held with loads of butterflies in my tummy. We started with the tasting and indeed everything came back to me – I nailed the wines (a French Chardonnay -about 2 years old and a NZ Pinot Noir – 3-4 years old.) I was so very lucky to get a New Zealand wine and this gave me courage for the rest of the exam. The theory was quite easy with mainly wine questions – there was quite a bit of detail on the famous crus but I was prepared so I scored quite high once again. A short break and then the practical – this was very nerve racking as a lot of students were comparing answers and horror stories… The practical test was Sparkling service – the opening of the bottle and pouring was not too difficult once I actually stopped shaking, but when I had to start walking around with a tray full of glasses and serve a fictitious table and after that walk all around the room I started to panic a bit – walking with a full tray has never really been my forte… Luckily I managed to hold on to the tray and not to drop any glasses:-)

After this there where some questions – some which were totally unexpected but I managed to answer most of them. Still I did not feel too confident as some of the questions were really random and I was really not convinced about my tray walking and serving abilities…

A few of us went to 1707 for a drink to calm our nerves – we had to wait till 3.30 pm for our results. All of us were really nervous and most of us thought we had failed.

My name was the last one to be called out and I was so very happy as only 12 names were called. I did feel really bad for the 8 people who hadn’t made it – at least for a minute. After that I was too busy drinking Champagne to celebrate my success :-)

The reason I wanted to share this story is that I really believe I only passed because I wanted it so badly. Everybody was telling me to postpone the exam, take it easy and not worry too much but I really really wanted this so I made it happen. I believe everybody had this ability – but often we forget about it – which is a pity as it means we allow ourselves to miss out on good things! As Gary V says – Crush it!! Or in other words – believe in yourself and go get it!!

I want to thank my friends and family for their support and their confidence in me – couldn’t have done it without you guys!!

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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