What do you think of when you think of wine? How tasty it is? How snobby it can be? The funny sounds people make while they’re tasting? Not drinking effing merlot? Uncorked premiere episode introduces us to the Master Sommelier test & 6 people preparing for an exam that will make their careers. It is also an exam that very few people (like around 200) have actually passed in its 40-some year history.
Because of how hard this exam is, I’m assuming that we may see someone pass the exam, or we may not which is kind of unusual for TV. (And SPOILER ALERT – if you go to the Master Sommelier list on their web site, you’ll know if anyone makes it. So only check if you don’t care if you know.)
We begin Uncorked three months from the Master Sommelier exam and are introduced to are six hopefuls. Morgan Harris (2nd time taking the exam) the cork dork who initially apologizes too much, Josh Nadel (4th time) the guy who can have teenage meltdowns, or so he claims, Dana Gaiser (3rd time) the blase one, Jane Lopes (first time) the girl, Yannick Benjamin (9th time) the guy in a wheelchair, and Jack Mason (3rd time) the nervous guy from Texas.
Morgan, Josh, Jane and Jack meet at one of the restaurants Josh manages to give us a brief introduction into blind tasting. There are glasses of wine in front of the sommelier. They have to describe the wine – what elements does the person sense with their nose and their mouth. The more elements that person describes adds up to a picture of what that wine is. At the end, the person has to give a final conclusion of what the wine is – what grape, region and year.
Then we meet Yannick, who was paralyzed due to a car accident. We also meet his French parents and watch them enjoy a velvety wine from Bordeaux.
Dana Gaiser is a mellow guy and currently works for a wine & spirits distributor, which puts him at a disadvantage in terms of the service portion of the sommelier exam. He’s making his own tonic, which totally intrigues me. I want his recipe for next summer’s drinking enjoyment. I’ll make that right after I try to make every technical challenge bake from The Great British Baking Show. Morgan is introduced to us as the theory nerd or the cork dork. Jack is a religious person. Charming in a comfortable environment, but nervous in a testing environment.
In this premiere episode, our 6 contestants have a practice competition with some master sommeliers. The winner of this test will win an all-expenses paid trip to Provence. To win, they need to do a blind tasting of 3 wines and identify which region, grape and price point for each of those wines. They are also tested on serving & pairing champagne – including being able to pour glasses at the same level. They also have to decant & pour an old red wine.
The restaurant where this test is taking place has the worst decanters I’ve ever seen. The mouth of the decanter is about the same diameter as a wine bottle. It’s like they want to spill wine. How does that aerate the wine other than the initial pour between the bottle & the decanter. I mean, look at this thing:
Everyone has their strengths & weaknesses. Some are better at selling wine. Others are better at serving wine. In the end, Jane wins this week’s prize, but the judges aren’t sure that any of them are ready to pass the Master Sommelier exam yet.
So next time you’re at a restaurant with a sommelier remember – let them know what you like, what your price point is and trust them. They’re trying to get you wine that you will enjoy.
What did you think of this first episode of Uncorked? Could you hack it as a sommelier? How much did you want a glass during this episode?