Madeline worked her way through college in restaurants – bartender, server, cook – and was offered the position of sommelier at age 21 thanks to a good French accent! She entered two Sopexa competitions (Best French Sommelier), did well and was invited to take the MS advanced course and exam in 1987. There was no process at the time, it was the first year these were held in the U.S.


Since then, she has held two wine director positions in the Metro Detroit area. In 2011, Madeline transitioned to retail, working for an independent wine retailer and running the consumer events.


Where are you working currently and how has being a MS supported you in your current role?

I’m working for Plum Market, an independent grocer with large wine departments in 5 stores, running their events and tastings and helping the team with wine selection.  Being an MS has gained me entry throughout my career since passing the exam. It gives the guests I deal with confidence and faith in the direction I give them. It’s most useful as a door for others, being able to encourage people going through the testing process and give them solid advice based on my experience examining.


Where were you working when you passed?

When I passed, I was the sommelier at the London Chop House in Detroit. The restaurant was wonderful on so many levels – the wine list was large but manageable (500 selections), the food dependably exceptional and the staff very well-trained and a true team. I happily worked the floor every night. I still miss that, and writing wine lists.


What made you want to become an MS?

I became an MS because I was invited to sit the exam, there was no process at the time, and I couldn’t say no to the challenge. Other than having to teach myself how to blind taste in a short period of time, the exam process felt very challenging but natural, especially service.


What advice do you give those who are pursuing certification?

To those pursuing certification at all levels I say, you can’t cram for this, you have to study and taste diligently. And you cannot think your way through service, the lack of muscle memory is immediately apparent.


What is your desert island wine, or what wines/beverages are you currently excited about?

My desert island wine would be white Burgundy because that’s the first wine that touched me. I’m excited about Douro reds, but really any time I pick up a glass I feel innocent and receptive, for which I’m grateful!