A great honour for Austria: for the first time in its history, the highly respected Court of Master Sommeliers will conduct its examination for membership outside the UK or the US – and nowhere else but in Austria! The Master Sommelier Diploma, which will be awarded at Klosterneuburg Abbey in August, is considered the highest honour to which a sommelier can aspire.
A sommelier’s counterpart to the Master of Wine
The London-based Court of Master Sommeliers has been granting the Master Sommelier Diploma since 1977, with the aim of offering a top-drawer qualification in matters regarding wine for individuals in the hospitality industry, one that would be comparable to the Master of Wine. Since that time, the title ‘Master Sommelier’ has come to be considered the highest ordination for sommeliers worldwide. Only 249 individuals have successfully completed the highly demanding Master Sommelier training, including three Austrians: Joseph Linder, Alexander Koblinger and Stefan Neumann.
Examination for the first time outside the UK or USA
For the first time in its more than forty-year history, the court will now conduct the exam outside of the UK or the USA. On 19 & 20 August, sixteen international candidates will undergo the double examination at Klosterneuburg Abbey: first, six wines from anywhere in the world must be correctly analysed and described in a blind tasting. This will be followed by an oral theory exam encompassing questions on the entire body of knowledge relevant to wine and its service. Only those who satisfy the highest standards of the exam will be confirmed as Master Sommeliers by the examining board, which itself consists exclusively of Master Sommeliers.
Austria is an international top address for wine education
The choice of the examination venue has a symbolic element to it, because in 1860 the school for wine and fruit husbandry, which today is regarded as the oldest viticultural college in the world, was founded in Klosterneuburg Abbey. In general, Austria enjoys a first-class international reputation when it comes to wine education. In addition to the Höhere Lehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College & Federal Office of Viticulture, Oenology and Fruit Growing) in Klosterneuburg, the Austrian Wine Academy, headquartered in Rust (Burgenland) is one of the world’s most highly regarded wine education institutes. In addition, the Sommelierunion Austria played an essential role in Austria being chosen by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
‘After the Institute of Masters of Wine and the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers has been holding courses in Austria for a long time now,’ says well-pleased Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB). ‘The fact that, for the first time, the Master Sommelier examination will be taking place here serves to confirm the extraordinary esteem that Austria enjoys among the élite of the international wine educators. We can justifiably be proud of this!’