definition of Sommelier

Tip:  Educating the Staff
Answers Now Available

By Michael Flynn, Wine Director, Kinkead’s

If your staff is as test-averse as mine, assessing their level of knowledge and getting them to study up can be a real challenge. My solution—open-book 'questionnaires,' where they can use any open source they wish, except one another, and have up to two weeks to answer each series of questions. I produce a questionnaire each month targeted to a specific region of the world, or a given theme, and ask between fifteen and twenty questions about things they are likely to be asked, or about topics I think they should be conversant in, and let them go to work. Gone is the stress and anxiety of a testing situation, and what's even better, they end up reading and learning about three times as much stuff as they need to answer the questions correctly. Most of my staff have come to me and reported how enjoyable the exercise is!

Test yourself with Michael Flynn’s Questionnaire, then click here for the answers

Michael Flynn’s Open Book Wine Questionnaire

  1. Marsannay is an appellation within which French wine region? Which grape varieties are permitted there?
  2. How many Grand Cru vineyards are there in Chablis? Name them.
  3. In which French wine regions are wines labelled by grape varietal name?
  4. Name the Premier Grand Cru Classe of Bordeaux.
  5. Describe Banyuls. Where and how is it made?
  6. In Champagne, some wines are labelled LD. To what does this refer?
  7. What is the proper translation of the word ‘cuvée’?
  8. What is the difference between the designations ‘Vendange Tardive’, and ‘Selection de Grains Noble’? Where are these phrases applied?
  9. Name six grape varietals that are cultivated for wine production in the Loire Valley.
  10. How many varietals are permitted in the blend for Chateauneuf-du-Pape? Name them.
  11. Name the three principal districts of Champagne, and indicate which varietals each district specializes in.
  12. Name the Grands Crus of Gevrey-Chambertin.
  13. What’s the meaning of ‘Côte Rôtie’, and what kind of wine is made there?
  14. Name four appellations in the southern Rhone Valley, and describe the wines made in each.
  15. What’s the difference between Pouilly Fuissé and Pouilly Fumé? Name one producer of each

Answers to Michael Flynn’s Open Book Wine Questionnaire

  1. Marsannay is the southernmost appellation in the northern Côtes de
    Nuits region of Burgundy's Côte d'Or. Permitted grape varieties include
    Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Liebault, and Chardonnay.

  2. There are 7 Grands Crus in Chablis: Les Clos, Les Preuses, Blanchots,
    Bougros, Valmur, Vaudesir, and Grenouilles.

  3. In the Languedoc, and in Alsace, the majority of wines are labelled
    with their varietal names.

  4. The Premier Grands Crus Classés of Bordeaux were determined in the
    1855 classification with only one subsequent change in 1972, the
    elevation of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac) from second to First
    growth. They are, then - Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild (Pauillac), Chateau
    Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac), Chateau Latour (Pauillac), Chateau Margaux
    (Margaux), and Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan).

  5. Banyuls and Banyuls Grand Cru are the appellations for France's
    finest, most complex 'vins doux naturels' from terraced vineyards above
    the Mediterranean at the southern limit of the Roussillon. Grenache must
    dominate the blend and constitute a minimum of 50% for Banyuls, and 75 %
    for Banyuls Grand Cru. The Grand Cru must age in wood for at least 30
    months, while the regular may be aged for as long as the producer feels
    is beneficial. The wine is made by arresting the fermentation ('mutage')
    by adding grape brandy while the juice is still on the skins, producing a
    rich red wine which is both strong (about 18-20% alc by volume), and
    sweet. It's the best match with chocolate I have ever found!

  6. LD, or RD in Champagne means Late-Disgorged (or Recemment Degorge),
    and refers to the ejection of the frozen pellets of expired yeast which
    have been allowed to collect in the neck of the aging Champagne bottles.
    LD wine is said to preserve a taste of freshness and vigor as a
    counterpoint to the more developed flavors and aromas which come with the
    wine's age.

  7. The word 'cuvée' means a variety of things in a variety of
    circumstances, but in general refers to a lot or batch of wine. In
    Champagne, 'Tete de Cuvée' refers to the house's luxury bottling, as it
    also does in Sauternes. Cuvée in Champagne refers to the first, and best
    quality juice which flows from the wine press. A blend of wines from
    various varietals can also be called a cuvée.

  8. 'Vendange Tardive' means 'late-harvest', and refers to wines made
    without the addition of sugar from grapes allowed to ripen to
    near-raisiny richness, and in Alsace these wines may vary from quite dry
    to medium-sweet. 'Selection de Grains Nobles' is a term in Alsace for
    very late-picked grapes affected by 'Noble Rot' which produce the
    sweetest and most sumptuous styles of wine in the region.

  9. Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet), Cabernet
    Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Arbois, Grolleau, Malbec, Gamay, and Pinot

  10. There are 13 varietals allowed for Chateauneuf-du-Pape red and white:
    Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picardin,
    Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Terret Noir, Counoise, Clairette, and Roussanne.

  11. Vallée de la Marne for Pinot Meunier, Montagne de Reims for Pinot Noir, Côtes des Blancs for Chardonnay.

  12. Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Latricieres-Chambertin,
    Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyeres-Chambertin (lies
    within Charmes-Chambertin), Mazis-Chambertin, Chappelle-Chambertin, and

  13. Côte Rotie means 'roasted slope.' It's an appellation in the
    northern Rhone Valley in which the grape Syrah dominates, and a maximum
    of 20% Viognier (an aromatic white variety) is permitted in the blend.

  14. Chateauneuf-du-Pape- rich, earthy, spicy, full-bodied reds made from
    up to 13 permitted varietals. The main grape is Grenache. About one
    bottle in 16 is a white wine made from one of several of the same
    --Gigondas - for reds and rosés. The reds are similar to those of
    Chateauneuf, though the Grenache must be no more than 80% of the blend,
    with Syrah and Mourvedre making up another 15%. In the rosés, both Syrah
    and Mourvedre are mandatory.
    --Lirac - full-bodied reds and rosés are produced, along with small quantities of rich, aromatic whites. No more than 40% Grenache may be used in the reds, while the whites must contain at least a third Clairette.
    --Tavel - best known as a rosé appellation, Grenache is the dominant
    varietal here, but may not exceed 60% of the blend. Cinsault is also
    used. The wines of Tavel are always bone-dry, and should be drunk young
    and well-chilled.

  15. Pouilly-Fuissé is an appellation in the Maconnais district of southern Burgundy and is made of 100% Chardonnay. Larochette-Manciat is
    one producer. Pouilly-Fumé is an appellation in the Loire Valley and is 100%
    Sauvignon Blanc. Didier Dagueneau is one producer.

    How well did you do?

    Michael Flynn

    Top of page.
another tip

Interview with Michael FlynnWine List from Kinkead'sMichael Flynn's Wine TipsMichael Flynn's homepageSommelier Archives

Coming Soon Wine Homepage Wine NewsGroups Ask the Sommelier Coming Soon Wine Tips Wine Features StarChefs Auctions StarChefs News StarChefs Features StarChefs Community StaChefs Chefs StarChefs Home