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Specialty Sommeliers - Wine, Beer, Coffee, Whiskey, Honey - All with Certification

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The Sommeliers of Everything

The article is a shallow dive into what would have been a really interesting subject for a longer essay.  It's a survey of the recent rise of "sommeliers" for everything from water to honey to chocolate, and the attendant certificates and certifications that go along with this expertise.  As expected, the actual expertise indicated by these certifications varies widely.  The cultural drivers behind the rise of tastemakers and knowers-of-specific-things weaves a thread throughout, and it concludes thusly:

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Indeed, what the rise of specialized taste education, the cult of sensory analysis, and the wine-ification of everything means is that taste is becoming more and more codified all the time. There are good tastes and bad tastes; not only that, there’s a growing caste of gatekeepers in every field who are keeping score on what tastes great, middling and flawed. Maybe this is what morality or philosophy looks like in an increasingly post-religious, post-intellectual, materialistic United States. 

I would have liked to see more from the scientific perspectives on this (e.g., how much of this "expertise" is complete bullshit when measurements are applied and cross-checked). This could easily be expanded to any other number of fields that have acquired "experts" in the information age, and parallels with the increasing tribalism in online communities in general.  I couldn't help but think of Japan's otaku culture as well.

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4 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:

I rarely open emails from Wine Enthusiast, but coincidentally, the subject line in this morning's mail caught my eye, and I bit

Nice article. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the thousands and thousands of dollars these courses cost.

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6 hours ago, Count Bobulescu said:

I rarely open emails from Wine Enthusiast, but coincidentally, the subject line in this morning's mail caught my eye, and I bit.

Git Yer Wine Credentials

Tangential note to all who think "Blind Tasting is a Hoax" - I used to defend blind tasting as an interesting intellectual exercise, if nothing else. It was (still is) a good way to keep yourself honest and in-check as a wine taster.

But climate change has thrown another variable into the equation: Now, a Dujac Clos de la Roche may no longer be identifiable as a Dujac Clos de la Roche. Two-hundred years from now, the best wines may be made in Norway - it's a little distressing.

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2 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

Nice article. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the thousands and thousands of dollars these courses cost.

It would be nice to see, not only what these various certifications cost, but also what they translate into in terms of "getting a job" and "making more money" - I'm certain that, for example, Master Sommeliers have an easier time of things, but at what cost?

Boy, just when you think that *nothing* could be a more blue-chip, absolutely immune, investment than a plot of Grand Cru vines, along comes climate change. It's kind of the viticultural equivalent of having a beach house.

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3 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

It would be nice to see, not only what these various certifications cost, but also what they translate into in terms of "getting a job" and "making more money" - I'm certain that, for example, Master Sommeliers have an easier time of things, but at what cost?

12 years ago, you couldn't get a sommelier job in Las Vegas if you didn't have an MS. The MS certification takes 3 years and close to $10,000 in hotels, weeks off work and fees. I once asked a colleague who got an MS certification while she was working at a fine dining restaurant if she got an instant raise and the answer was no. 

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 I thought this article was fascinating,   In addition to knowing how these people did in blind tastings, I’d be really interested to know their motivation for getting some of the non-wine certifications.  Is it mostly just bragging rights, or are most of the people who get them in the industry and hoping to monetize the certification?

 If they are just amateurs doing it for their own education, I also wondered what the effect would be on their overall level of enjoyment  of their chosen subject- for example, if they choose to get a certification in cheese, does their more refined and educated palate mean they can no longer enjoy  mass market cheeses  or the cheese plate at the office holiday party?  Or, perhaps are they so busy evaluating the cheese they don’t enjoy it as much?   If so then, could the certification/ education  have the ironic affect of decreasing their overall level of pleasure by reducing the number of products they can enjoy? 

 He had a statement in the article to the effect that the purpose of sommeliers  and similar professionals was ultimately to  steer customers to higher priced products, I wondered what people thought of this  too

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49 minutes ago, sandynva said:

 If they are just amateurs doing it for their own education, I also wondered what the effect would be on their overall level of enjoyment  of their chosen subject- for example, if they choose to get a certification in cheese, does their more refined and educated palate mean they can no longer enjoy  mass market cheeses  or the cheese plate at the office holiday party?  Or, perhaps are they so busy evaluating the cheese they don’t enjoy it as much?   If so then, could the certification/ education  have the ironic affect of decreasing their overall level of pleasure by reducing the number of products they can enjoy? 

Everything you ask here is correct except the "evaluating mass-market cheese" question - I'm pretty sure I can speak for every studied cheese palate when I say that they don't bother evaluating the holiday platter of cheese cubes with toothpicks, because there's nothing there to evaluate.

One of the greatest curses in all of humanity is over-education.

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