St. Helena, CA – The nation’s top wine professionals gathered at the Meadowood Resort in California’s Napa Valley last week to administer the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam, a daunting three-day test that measures a sommelier’s knowledge of wine theory, beverage service and tasting ability. After years of preparation, thirty-seven candidates attempted the exam, but only two would pass: Melissa Monosoff of Savona Restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Eric Entrikin of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California. They join a select group of 103 other Americans who have successfully completed the rigorous examination and are members of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Masters Monosoff and Entrikin were officially welcomed to the Court at a champagne reception sponsored by Krug on Thursday, February 25, 2010. “On behalf of the entire Court, I would like to congratulate all thirty-seven candidates for reaching the final stage of the examination process, and heartily welcome both Master Monosoff and Master Entrikin to our organization,” said Jay Fletcher, Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “They truly represent the best of the best and we look forward to their future contributions to the Court and the wine industry as a whole.”
“The quality and caliber of the candidates at this exam was outstanding,” noted Tim Gaiser, the Education Director for the American Chapter of the Court. “However, Melissa and Eric stood a head above the rest, demonstrating a superior knowledge of wine theory, an advanced understanding of beverage service, and an unparalleled tasting ability.”
Master Monosoff began her journey as a Master Sommelier in culinary school, but soon learned that her true passion was wine. She first enrolled in the Court’s Introductory Course in 2002 in Napa Valley and has spent the last eight years pursuing the goal of Master Sommelier with dogged determination. Her studies led her to London, California, and even Ohio, but the night before her exam found her in the exact same hotel where she had first stayed in 2002.
“I am thrilled to have passed the Masters Exam in the very same place where my journey first began,” said Master Monosoff. “It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but earning the title of Master Sommelier has made it all worth it. It is an incredible honor and I am very grateful to all those who have helped me along the way.”
Master Entrikin leads the wine team at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, California, and cited both the support of his restaurant and the mentorship within the Court as key factors in his successful examination last Thursday.
“Passing the Masters Exam is the greatest moment of my life,” said Eric. “It was extraordinarily difficult and took years of preparation, but standing here among this extraordinary group of Masters is both humbling and inspiring. I look forward to the opportunity to mentor others through this process so they can share in the joy of this moment.”
“As just the third Master in the United States, it has been a pleasure to watch the Court grow and mature over the years,” said Frederick Dame, Chairman Emeritus of American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and current President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “Having thirty-seven worthy candidates in one sitting is remarkable. I look forward to working with all of these sommeliers in the future and offer my sincere congratulations to Masters Entrikin and Monosoff on their outstanding exam performances.”
About the Court of Master Sommeliers
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter. There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Course; 2) Certified Sommelier Exam; 3) Advanced Sommelier Course; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma.
There are 105 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 90 are men and 15 are women. There are 170 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.