Originally Posted by alexg
It would be local for me too, and I should be able to get there pretty easily. I think it's 3 years to take level 2, or you need to retake 1 at a reduced rate. I'm really annoyed, I was promised by my school I could take level 1 for free through them, now they suddenly decided to cancel that. For free it was an awesome idea, but it's pretty expensive at full price. The service would be the biggest issue for me too for the same reason. I've never decanted an old wine, much less carried a tray of glasses.
If you don't care to learn about the service portion I would do wset instead. It's like 3 times as expensive but it's also like 3 times the wine and 3 times the learning time. They also do spirits and their method of tasting seems a little better to me. The CMS people still have you looking at legs and stuff. Seems a little outdated.
Also for CMS they only show you the nifty service stuff. You don't actually get to do it. If you buy a nice bottle at an awesome restaurant you get to see it anyways.
I took the same class gome did but having four master somms guide you through a structured tasting is very informative and very different. Also talking to them afterwards is great. The info itself is not super advanced/detailed but pretty good. not sure if all that is worth $500 to you but it was worth it for me.
I do agree with you that $500 spent on drinking wine by yourself isn't the same as going through a structured tasting with a master somm. You could probably approximate the experience drinking with gome or manton though. Holy grail would be drinking with slewfoot.
Wines are actually pretty decent quality. They probably buy wholesale so can't say for sure but it was like 25 wines. The ones I knew were like $12-$20 (so $300 to $500 if you spent that money buying the wine yourself). Considering they have to rent the room, rent glasses and pay someone to wash them, and pay the somms I remember thinking it wasn't a bad deal at all.
I remember going in thinking like gome all tasting is bullshit, but coming out thinking maybe there really is something to this. Their palates were razor sharp. They could easily nail not just varietal, but growing conditions, geography, and vintage and tell you specifically how they could tell and how other wines (eg other areas same varietal or similar area different varietal) would taste different (and also actually taste you on differences). That was very informative and definitely something I would have never experienced otherwise. I got to ask questions during and after and they were more than willing and capable of giving great informative answers very different from talking with a sales assistant or a somm at your local bistro
They do focus a lot on what I think are bullshit descriptors (ripe Antigua melons, crushed dehydrated strawberries, dirt with live earthworms) but it's mainly for your own memory. People have different associations with different compounds so while you might not understand other people's descriptors using your own descriptors for yourself seems pretty useful in useless situations like blind tastings.