Pine’s Vanessa Stoltz begins journey to join Court of Master Sommeliers

Vanessa Stoltz, head sommelier at Michelin-starred Pine in Northumberland, has begun her journey to join the ranks of the Court of Master Sommeliers having passed her Introductory and Certified Sommelier exams.

Vanessa, alongside candidates from across the UK and Europe, undertook her exams at Northcote in Lancashire. She was one of 17 students from a group of 21 who passed the Introductory award, and one of only eight students from a total of 16 who passed the Certified award.

The Introductory Sommelier certificate demonstrates that those sitting the more advanced award have an above average wine knowledge – such as an understanding of the wine classification and control systems, and they can describe the characteristics of the wines from the main wine producing countries of the world.

The Certified Sommelier qualification is the primary certification for wine and beverage professionals in the hospitality industry, and recognises beverage professionals whose knowledge, skills and demeanour are worthy of the title Certified Sommelier.

The exam is made up of three stages: a blind tasting exam, a theory exam, and a service exam – and requires a 60% pass mark or higher.

The first part of the exam required Vanessa to undertake a practical demonstration of her restaurant service competency, covering things like menu pairing, the presentation and preparation of wines for service, and the correct glassware to be used with specific beverages.

The second stage required her to demonstrate theoretical knowledge, covering aspects such as wine producing regions, grape varieties, the correct handling and storage of a variety of drinks, the practical processes involved in various distillation formats, and even international wine law.

The final part of the exam involved a practical 25-minute blind tasting, during which Vanessa had to be able to clearly and accurately describe two different wines – one white and one red. She was asked to describe their appearance, aroma, structural components and identify, where appropriate, the grape varieties used, country of origin, district of origin and vintage.

Sian Buchan, Pine’s co-owner and restaurant manager, said: ‘’We’re really proud of what Vanessa has achieved, lots of the hard work, avid studying and dedication has paid off, with her achieving both her Introductory and Certified Sommelier qualifications. Both of these very prestigious awards recognise her real passion for wine and her expertise, and we’re looking forward to seeing her continue to share her love for the grape in all its forms with our guests at Pine as her wine journey continues.’’

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