Andrea's CMS Challenge

  • Celia Hay

Andrea Martinisi with colleagues at the Dorchester Hotel including Miyuki Morimoto from Japan, Paolo Saccone from Italy & Australia, Max Gurtler from Australia.

With over 40 candidates gathered in London, to sit the Court of Master Sommeliers elite certification of Master Sommelier, the pressure was on.

Andrea Martinisi travelled from New Zealand and arrived 10 days ahead of time to focus and revise. The exams take 3 days.

"I spent everyday on the books, studying early, a break for mid-morning breakfast and through the day until after dinner. It was very useful to cram in the last few days. Lists, Names to keep in my memory, and Maps are super important to memorise regions, sub-regions, towns and more. 

"For me it's easier to memorise an image of a map of a region. I use a technique of taking kitchen baking paper to trace over a map of a region and then repeat this again and again until I have the picture in my mind.

"And my flashcards are now in the thousands...

"For blind tasting practice, I was able to meet up with colleagues including Dion Wai, now working in London," says Andrea.

This is a verbal exam, even for theory and candidates need to answer questions individually from the judges. The judges read the questions and will only repeat the questions once. Candidates have 45 seconds to answer and need to get 75% correct.

"I did have broken night's sleep before the exams. Nerves play a big part. You need to over-prepare; you are always going to make mistakes," comments Andrea.


Day 1 Theory: 1 hour – 3 judges

Day 2 Tasting 25 minutes – 6 wines: 3 judges

Day 3 Dorchester Hotel - Practical

Paolo Saccone from Australia decants for the judges.

The Practical Session consist of:

Hospitality Business (10 mins): a spreadsheet of stocktake, cells missing, pages of questions to calculate plus a wine-list correction exercise.

Practical Service: there were groups of judges assessing different tasks (12 minutes per table)
1. Decantation with lots of questions including food and wine pairing.

2.  How to train staff on Sake

3. Champagne and cocktails

Opening a bottle of champagne and then being asked to serve a Champagne Cocktail (sugar, cognac).

Brian Julyan MS, founder Court of Master Sommeliers precides over the Master Sommelier Exam was held in London.

Results from Oct 28 2023

Results were given at individual meetings with feedback and notes on each candidate's performance.

"You are never given the answers but the judges tell you what to work on," comments Andrea.

No Masters Sommeliers were awarded in October, London 2023.

Andrea passed the Theory and Service Exams.

In 2024, Andrea heads back to Europe for the tasting and does not need to resit the theory or practical.

Congratulations, Andrea and fingers-crossed for 2024.

Dinner at the Dorchester Hotel

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