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Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

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Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Passing the bar exam

If you've ever been to Mesh in West Chester, you've seen the wall of wine that dominates the dining room. It houses over 2,000 bottles, some that sell for $22, a few that sell for $3,500. Mesh also has a guy who knows every bottle, can answer your questions about any of them and match them to the food you order. He's always been a cork dork, but now he's certified.

Bretton Lammi just become the second person in the Cincinnati area to become a Certified Sommelier, and the only one at a restaurant here. The other is Evelyn Ignatow, who owns Hyde Park Gourmet Food and Wine.

Certified Sommelier is one step on the way to becoming a Master Sommelier. That's the highest level at the Court of Sommeliers, and there are only 144 of them in the world, 85 in the U.S. But the Court also gives tests for three other levels, beginning, certified and advanced. The certified level was added only recently, since, says Lammi, there was such a gap between the beginning and advanced. "90% passed the first test, 10% passed the next," he said. Of the 42 people he took the test for certified level with, 20 passed.

The test includes a written, multiple-choice section and a blind testing of two wines "You have name the grape, region, vintage, and describe it in wine terms," said Lammi. "But it's the service part that's hardest because of your nerves." His test was serving champage, and he was nervous, but not as nervous as some. "There were people who dropped trays of filled champage glasses."

Try him out next time you're at Mesh--they have their own brand of bubbly wine. Or ask him for recommendations. That's the best part of a restaurant with a knowledgeable wine server or sommelier: the chance to chat geeky wine details if you're into it, ask questions if you want to know more, or just put yourself in good hands if you're simply looking for an interesting taste match-up with your meal.
Mesh is in West Chester at 6200 Muhlhauser Rd, 513-777-7177


at 7:33 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certified, schmertified--it's a freaking beverage, not liquid sent down here directly from God.
You folks who act as if drinking wine is some kind of deified activity really need to get a life. Is this the same blog where someone referenced complete embarrassment when drinking wine out of a box?

Just not sure when/where this wine/arrogance connection developed, but it is truly a lame trend. Buy the wine, drink it, quit acting like its some kind of scholarly pursuit. It is not.

If I ever see anyone I know smelling corks or swirling to inhale the essence, I'm breaking the bottle over his head.

at 8:05 AM Anonymous Brendon said...

Whew, watch out for THAT guy the next time you order the house wine at Putter's...

I have found that having a sommelier willing to steer you toward a great wine that will be properly paired with your meal AND in your price range is a service that will only enhance your experience.

I'd love to know how long the sommelier at Mesh has been schmertified!

at 5:14 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Anon: I don't need it paired. I don't need my experience enhanced. Eat the food. Drink the liquid. Why make it all so complicated?

So many "wine afficionados" are just reaching for an artificial aura of sophistication, in my opinion.
And if you need to do that, well, it's just odd...

Gotta run. Corks to smell. Swirling to inhale. Essences to savor. Nutty. Fruity. Good nose. Excellent finish.

at 8:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why make it all so complicated?" It's really not that complicated. Just like meatloaf goes better with mashed potatoes than it does rice, some beverages go better with certain foods. When you take the time to prepare a good meal or are shelling out big bucks at a restaurant, why not try to enjoy what you're putting in your mouth? You don't have to be a snob about it, just try to have the best meal you can.

at 2:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bretton's knowledge of wine is sexy. You anons must be west-siders!

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