Julie Klusewitz, restaurant manager at The Nittany Lion Inn, has earned the title of Certified Sommelier from the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
The Certified Sommelier credential is awarded to candidates who demonstrate proficiency in wine service skills, have a general understanding of wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails, and can articulate that information on demand during a three-part exam.
Blind tasting, the first part of the exam, uses the Master Sommelier Deductive Tasting Method, which employs a written tasting grid. Candidates are given 30 minutes to evaluate four wines—two white and two red—and asked to identify each wine.
Part two of the exam is a theory component that covers fundamental questions about wine, spirits, beer, and service. Candidates have 30 minutes to complete the 45-question written exam.
The third and final segment is the Service Practical, in which candidates must demonstrate wine service to a Master Sommelier in a mock restaurant setting.
“The written theory exam was definitely the most challenging section for me because it’s the foundation for the rest of the exam,” Klusewitz says. “You need to rely heavily on your theory knowledge for the tasting and service portions as well. It was only 45 questions, but you have to be prepared to answer questions about all the wine regions and styles from around the globe.”
Klusewitz has been studying wines since she began working at the Inn about three years ago. “I remember being intimidated by our wine program when I was first introduced to it, but Sean Caviston, the Inn’s wine director, has been an awesome mentor through the whole process,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot from our Tastes of the World and Winemaker Wine Series dinners.”
For Klusewitz, it’s important to continue learning and honing her skills. “Going forward, our staff and guests will see me as a wine expert, so now the real work will start! Wine is such a huge topic with so many detailed rules and regulations—and then so many exceptions to those rules. The more you learn about it, the more you realize how little you really know! But it’s exciting any time you can help a guest discover something new that they love, and I hope to do a lot more of that in the future.”
“Julie has worked hard over the past few years to improve our wine program by dedicating herself to this goal, and we congratulate her on this great accomplishment,” Caviston says.
According to The Court of Master Sommeliers’ website, the organization was established in 1977 “to promote excellence in hotel and restaurant beverage service. Though its members
worldwide come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, they share a proven mastery of the art, science, and history that informs a sommelier’s work.”