A toast to wine excellence

The Court of Master Sommeliers Europe is bringing their prestigious training programme to South Africa.

By Bongiwe Tshiqi
Vineyard ©Unsplash
Vineyard ©Unsplash

In the world of fine dining, nothing beats a well-educated sommelier. They can help you navigate the often-confusing avenues between farms, regions, and age. 

Mealtimes are made that much more enjoyable through the correctly recommended food pairings. And they can ensure that you get just the right banquet for your tastebuds. And since South Africa is one of the leading regions when it comes to wine farms, it’s of paramount importance that we are always levelling up when it comes to sommelier training. 

Enter the Court of Masters. It was established in the United Kingdom in 1977 as a way of encouraging a certain quality standard for beverage services in hotels and restaurants . and has since become the premier examining body for Sommeliers worldwide.

tIn this programme, sommeliers register for different credentials. There are four stages of certification that grow in depth and complexity with each stage. Those who achieve a particular stage are awarded a certificate and badge on the same day as the exam. The courses include lessons in wine theory, blind tastings and practical dining room work.  The theory test covers basic wine knowledge and wine service questions. While the practical dining room test requires candidates to show their ability to handle table service and basic but accurate wine service. They also need to portray their exceptional communication skills. 

 Chenin Noir South Africa in partnership with The Court of Master Sommeliers Europe decided to bring this prestigious initiative to South Africa. Yasmine Kazadi, Managing Director of Chenin Noir South Africa says this is quite a coup for the South African Hospitality Industry. , “The best education can make us the best in the world from a Food and Beverage service offering.” She adds that the Court of Masters offers a great opportunity for sommeliers to become globally recogniszed., “The global positioning and opportunity that writing such exams can bring for a Sommelier could be a catalyst to great growth for Sommeliers on the continent.” 

Fortunately, bringing the Court of Masters to South Africa was not a difficult undertaking. Chenin Noir South Africa has an exclusive partnership with the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe which was established in 2019. That i’s when they launched the first exams but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could only host the next programme this year. In 2019 The Court of Master Sommeliers welcomed five Certified Sommeliers and 18 Introductory Sommeliers to its pPrestigious rRanks from the first course held in the country. 

The relationship with the Court of Masters has been one of synergy and has been a beautiful and intentional collaboration,” Yasmine says.  

The 2022 Court of Master Sommeliers is being held in Cape Town, 18-20 September. Chenin Noir South Africa partnered with AdVini South Africa to host the prestigious course at the L’Avenir Wine Estate and Country Lodge in Stellenbosch. The partnership with the AdVini South Africa team enables the established globally accredited programme to centre itself in the Winelands of South Africa.

For those interested in participating, the introductory Sommelier Course and Examination is R18,000 per person including study material. The certified exam costs R9,000.

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