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