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WOSA Semi-Finals Recap: Theory Examination

The day began with a written theory examination at 9AM. Taking advantage of the beautiful day, I walked over to East Broadway from the hotel and met up with the other 5 somms to take the test – well, 4 somms, as it turned out, since the final contestant had just landed on a red-eye flight in Newark and would be joining us a bit later. (It was then that I felt particularly grateful for my arrival on Saturday afternoon.)

Jim Clarke from Wines of South Africa US passed out our 50-question examination papers, and it definitely was more difficult than the first round examination. Not only were the types of questions much more specific and niche, contestants couldn’t rely on multiple choice to save them; most were free response short answer, although there were some matching and similar exercises. “Name 4 wine estates founded before 1700?” Sure thing! “Match the producers from the list below with their correct areas of production.” Got it! “Here is an example wine list that contains at least 5 errors – please indicate where they are found.” No problem, guys. Personally, I felt really good about the examination and was very well-prepared based on my personal experiences and travels in my trips to the cape; there were only 2 questions about which I was unsure, and as it turned out, I got half of one of those correct. The exam also covered things like soil types and elevations in different districts and wards, specific wines (and vintages!) made by producers, history, and so much more. It was a comprehensive assessment of the South African wine industry as it exists today.

We all finished up and, as always happens with an examination, went outside to pick each other’s brains about what the answers might have been. As the conversation progressed, the other somms stopped asking each other what they’d put and started directing their questions to me, and it became apparent that, for the theory examination, at least, I was now the front-runner in the competition.

But that was just 1 of the 3 parts of the examination, and now that our final contestant had joined our group, it was time to take a walk to our next stop: pizza school!

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