Congratulations to Christopher Jon Pares, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
I’m a native New Yorker, and a server in Manhattan restaurants since 2008. In 2011, I met a Sommelier at work for the first time—it was a job I didn’t know existed—and that changed my life. I wanted to get there myself, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t get a chance to start studying wine formally until 2015 while working at The Modern; there I met an MS for the first time, and his wine team guided us towards the Court of Master Sommeliers, thus starting my formal training in wine.
Thanks to the The Modern’s fantastic staff training, I passed the Court’s Introductory exam in 2015 without any formal study—but I was so busy at work that three years went by before I took the Certified! In 2018 I took the Intensive Sommelier Training course with Scott Carney, MS, arming myself with the skills necessary to quickly pass the Certified level and immediately take a job as a sommelier at Oceana Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.
Finally working as a sommelier on the floor, I quickly discovered where my weaknesses were. This led me to the Wine Scholar Guild courses, which allow me to advance my knowledge while studying on my own schedule. Italy in particular was a weak point of mine and now, because of IWS, it’s more of a strength.
I also recently passed FWS with highest honors, which filled in my knowledge of unfamiliar regions of France and furthered my understanding of familiar regions. I look forward to doing the same with SWS. I’m now interested in WSG master-level programs as well, which I believe will be a great help towards studying for the Advanced exam with the Court, which is an important goal of mine.
Italy was my weakest point, and now it’s my favorite wine country! As a direct result of IWS I’ve already done private Italian wine consultations for a couple of collectors. I also can’t wait to work with a more Italian-focused wine list in the future, something I was afraid to do before IWS. Essentially, whatever makes me a better somm is something I’m interested in, and deeper knowledge has never hurt me on the floor in my experience.