For me, nothing is more helpful in passing the AIS exam than to combine study with practice. In addition, my book with all the notes on wine and food entitled How to become a Sommelier will be invaluable to you in your studies! Practising answering the questions (especially the open-ended ones) of the written test and understanding proper time management is crucial for a successful outcome! L'AIS examination for aspiring sommeliers consists of a written test and an oral test organised on two different days, on average 14-28 days apart depending on the number of trainees. In this article I have decided to create a 'simulation' of the AIS exam questions from the written test. Remember that you have 1 hour and 30 minutes to pass the test, so there is not a second to lose, not even to think about it! These questions are in fact only the theoretical part of the written test, which is followed by wine tasting and wine and food pairing. In particular, the time for the written test is divided as follows:

  • wine tasting (you have to do the wine sheet without having it underneath... so make sure you study it well to remember all the entries!) - 15 minutes (max. rating 10/100);
  • compilation of the food and wine pairing sheet with tasting of a dish and a wine to go with it - 15 minutes (max. rating 10/100);
  • theoretical questions - 60 minutes (max. grade 30/100).

In this article, I invite you to do a simulation of the theoretical questions of the written test with me. Print this page, erase the answers, set the timer to 60 minutes and... GO!

Theoretical questions of the written test

(max. 60 minutes | max. rating 30/100)

AIS examination, written test/part 1: True/False questions

0.1 points for each correct answer V/F (max. 2 points... of the series... if you don't know, forget it!)
  1. Do chalky soils tend to give elegant, mineral wines? TRUE
  2. Is the pergola a widespread vine training system in Sardinia? FALSE
  3. Is the smoothness of a wine determined mainly by glycerine, ethyl alcohol and sugars? TRUE
  4. In cluster formation, does picolit undergo millerandage? TRUE
  5. Is the bottle of wine served to the right of the host? TRUE
  6. Hints of flowers and fresh fruit are characteristic of wines of medium evolution? FALSE
  7. Is a balanced wine always harmonious? FALSE
  8. Is the ideal cellar temperature between 18-20 °C? FALSE
  9. In the scorecard, does the visual examination account for 20% of the total? FALSE
  10. In the scorecard, does the structure have correction coefficient 2? FALSE
  11. Are varietal wines PGI? FALSE
  12. Is Cognac a distillate of grape must? FALSE
  13. Are top-fermenting beers brewed at 25-30 °C? FALSE
  14. Is gewurztraminer widely used to produce aromatic sparkling wines? TRUE
  15. Is Nebbiolo known as Chiavennasca in Valle d'Aosta? FALSE
  16. In the Cote d'Or, the most cultivated vines are pinot noir and chardonnay? TRUE
  17. Is Cirò obtained mainly from the Gaglioppo grape variety? TRUE
  18. One of Spain's main wine production areas is Rioja? TRUE
  19. If a food has a decidedly acidic tendency, should the matching wine be savoury? FALSE
  20. Is Camembert a washed rind cheese? FALSE

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AIS examination, written test/part 2: multiple-choice questions

0.2 points for each correct answer V/F (max 4 points... ok better but not life-changing!)
  1. The tendon vine training system is most widespread in:
    A. Trentino | B. Liguria | C. South Tyrol |   D. Apulia
  2. Soils that tend to give wines with little colour and structure are:
    A. Argillosi | B. Calcarei | C. Scistosi |   D. Sabbiosi
  3. Tannins are present in:
    A. Peel and seeds   | B. Pulp and Peel | C. Pulp and stalk | D. Pulp and marc
  4. A wine with a lively colour is:
    A. Rich in acidity   | B. Sweet and red | C. Dry and white | D. Evolved and structured
  5. Grape varieties that most frequently offer herbaceous hints are:
    A. Nero d'avola/Merlot | B. Pinot Noir/Sangiovese |   C. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc   | D. Cabernet Franc/Nebbiolo
  6. The term Classico, with respect to the reference Denomination, refers to:
    A. Longer ageing |   B. Historical production area   | C. Superior alcoholic strength | D. Superior structure
  7. The two grape varieties most widely used in the production of Martinotti method sparkling wines are:
    A. Chardonnay and Glera | B. Muscat and Pinot Noir |   C. Muscat and Glera   | D. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  8. In the scorecard, they have correction coefficient 1:
    A. Colour and appearance | B. PAI and balance | C. Olfactory and taste-olfactory intensity | D. Colour and PAI
  9. The Negroamaro grape variety is widespread mainly in:
    A. Apulia   | B. Calabria | C. Sicily | D. Basilicata
  10. The biancolella vine is cultivated mainly in:
    A. Calabria |   B. Campania   | C. Lazio | D. Apulia
  11. Pagadebit di Romagna is obtained from the vine:
    A. Trebbiano |   B. Bombino bianco   | C. Grechetto | D. Malvasia
  12. In Valtellina, Nebbiolo is known as:
    A. Picounter | B. Picotendro |   C. Chiavennasca   | D. Nebbiolo Michet
  13. Pouilly Fumé is obtained from:
    A. Chardonnay |   B. Sauvignon Blanc   | C. Riesling | D. Pinot Gris
  14. Industrial Rum is obtained from the distillation of a fermented:
    A. Molasses   | B. Cereals | C. Sugar cane | D. Agave
  15. Malbec is a particularly significant grape variety in wine growing in:
    A. California | B. Chile |   C. Argentina   | D. Australia
  16. One of Australia's most important wine-growing areas is:
    A. Barossa Valley   | B. Stellenbosch | C. Marlborough | D. Maipo
  17. Among the most widely cultivated grape varieties in Champagne are:
    A. Pinot Blanc et Noir |   B. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay   | C. Pinot Grigio and Nero | D. Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc
  18. One of the Cognac production areas is:
    A. Chablis |   B. Petite Champagne   | C. Ténarezè | D. Limousin
  19. It is a PDO product:
    A. Coppa di Parma | B. Bresaola della Valtellina | C. Speck Alto Adige |   D. Valle d'Aosta lard d'Arnad
  20. If a food has a pronounced succulence, the wine to be paired with it must be rich:
    A. Acidity | B. Freshness | C. Softness |   D. Alcoholicity

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AIS examination, written test/part 3: Open questions

2 points for each correct answer V/F (max. 24 points... OR THEY ARE FUNDAMENTAL!)
  1. List three vine training systems in Italy, with the most significant examples of grape varieties and growing areas:
    From the vine bred to sapling you get the Zibibbo at Sicily.
    From the vine bred to pergola you get theErbaluce di caluso at Piedmont.
    From the vine bred to guyot you get the Sangiovese at Tuscany.
  2. List the components that determine wine consistency, indicate the five terms on the rating scale:
    The consistency of the wine is determined by: glycerine, alcohol, sugars and all the substances that make up thewine dry extract.
    Rating scale values: fluidinsubstantialquite substantialsubstantialviscous.
  3. Malolactic fermentation: definition of the characteristics it determines in wine and types of wine in which it is desirable:
    Malolactic fermentation is the process that transforms malic acid (more sour and sharp) into lactic acid (sweeter and milder) and makes the wine softer and more balanced. Traditionally it is desirable in red wines, but today it is also used in important white wines.
  4. Explain what is meant by liqueur wine, how it can be obtained and give 3 significant examples with their production areas.
    Liqueur wine is a fortified wine made by adding mistelle, ethyl alcohol or concentrated must to the base wine to increase its alcohol content.
    1. Marsala - Sicily - Italy
    2. Sherry - Andalusia - Spain
    3. Porto - Douro Valley - Portugal
  5. List 5 distillates, with their raw materials and production areas:
    1. Grappa - Vinacce - Italy
    2. Cognac - Wine - France
    3. Whisky - Cereals - Scotland
    4. Rum - Sugar Cane - Cuba
    5. Tequila - Agave - Central America
  6. List the 10 most cultivated and significant grape varieties in Lombardy
    Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chiavennasca (nebbiolo), Marzemino, Moscato, Croatina, Trebbiano di Soave, Barbera, Sangiovese, Bonarda
  7. Indicate the main Nebbiolo areas:
    Langhe, Upper Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Valtellina
  8. Indicate the most important Italian sparkling wine areas:
    Trento, Franciacorta, Oltrepò Pavese, Valdobbiadene, Langhe
  9. Name 3 important wine-growing areas in Spain with their most significant grape varieties and the corresponding types of wine produced:
    1. Ribera del Duero area - Tinto Fino vine variety - Ribera del Duero red wine
    2. Rioja area - Tempranillo vine variety - Rioja red wine
    3. Zona Jerez - Pedro Ximenez - fortified wine Sherry
  10. Explain the sensation of succulence, indicate the three types of succulence, giving for each an example of food/preparation in which it is clearly perceptible, and propose a wine for each in combination:
    Succulence is the presence of liquid in the mouth, it may be:
    1. INTRINSIC: when there is liquid directly in the preparation we put in our mouth | cappelletti in brodo, food-wine pairing Romagna Albana Secco
    2. INDUCED: if it comes from substances that stimulate chewing which in turn generates salivation | e.g. grilled meat, food-wine pairing Romagna Sangiovese Superiore
  11. Explain what blue cheeses are and their most significant organoleptic characteristics, give three examples with three wines to propose in combination, giving reasons for the choices:
    These are cheeses to which a fungus of the genus Penicillium is added, which will develop and form the classic bluish mottling as the cheeses mature. At one time, development was left to chance, today it is strictly controlled. The organoleptic characteristics are a sour cheese, slightly piquant, with a strong smell and a very long taste-olfactory persistence.
    1. Gorgonzola - matching wine Franciacorta DOCG Extra Brut
    2. Stilton - wine pairing Port LBV
    3. Roquefort - wine pairing Sauternes relatively young (within 10 years)
  12. Trenette al pesto: indicate the main organoleptic characteristics and those of the matching wine, indicating its name.
    Pesto alla Genovese is the product of olive oil (unctuousness, bitter tendency, slight spiciness), basil (bitter tendency, strong aromaticity), pecorino cheese (savouriness, aromaticity, bitter tendency, spiciness...) and possibly garlic. To these are added pasta, green beans and potatoes. Taking the traits of Pesto alone for granted, I need a wine that holds especially spiciness, aromaticity and bitter tendency. Therefore I choose a wine with a slightly higher residual sugar, a nice smoothness and great intensity. Personally, I would choose a Sauternes very young (2011-2013) served very fresh.

I would like to point out a few articles I have written that will certainly help you in preparing for the AIS exam for aspiring sommeliers:

I also recommend you buy the Moleskine Wine Journal (on Amazon it's cheaper than at Buffetti!) to practise tasting even when you are 'on the go'. Finally, I recommend you absolutely buy at least the samples of alterations, defects and diseases: they will be really useful!

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank one of my readers and almost fellow Umbrian sommelier, Marco, for sending me the questions (with his answers, some in the open questions I have changed) that allowed me to create this post which I hope will help you in your study.

By the way, did you try the 60-minute simulation? How did it go? Write it to me in a comment!!!

Cheers ❤

Chiara

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