Many people imagine that being a sommelier is a dream job; after all, who wouldn’t like to taste wine for a living and match chef prepared foods to their perfect drinks?
Turns out, it’s a numbers game like most other jobs. Up and coming sommelier Jonathon Gonsenhauser gave me an inside view of his work life when we chatted on the phone the other day. (FYI: Jonathon is the sommelier at my husband Martin Kouprie’s restaurant. I chose to talk to him about his profession not only because I have easy access to him — unlike other people who can avoid me, Jonathon could get fired for not returning my calls — but also because he’s been distinguished by the Ontario Hostelry Association as one of the Top 30 young performers in the hospitality industry under 30 years of age.) He told me what it takes to be a top-notch sommelier and I’ve attempted to encapsulate our conversation with the following numeric list.
24 — Jonathon’s age.
19 — Age he started to study wine.
3 — Level (out of four) of sommelier status he’s attained.
640+ — Number of wines on Pangaea’s list.
75 to 80 — Percentage of those 640+ wines he has personally tasted.
3 — Number of days per week he meets outside work hours with his wine study group.
9 — The number of hours per week this group spends together.
6 — Number of bottles of wine made from one grape varietal that he and his study mates taste blind each Sunday.
2 to 3 — How many of those 6 bottles he and his study mates usually need to taste before someone correctly identifies the grape.
7.5 — Number of other hours Jonathon spends reading about wine on his own.
2 — Number of years before he hopes to attain master sommelier status.
17 — Number of candidates (out of 55) who usually pass the master sommelier exam on the first try.
167 — Number of master sommeliers in the world.
96 — Number of master sommeliers in North America.