In this article, I want to give you 5 tools that have made a difference in the way I study in the hope that they will help you whenever you have to take an exam... and in particular to pass theexamination as an AIS sommelier or any other association.

How many times have you thought that after years away from books, getting back to studying is an almost impossible task? How many times have you told yourself that you have no time to study? How many times have you felt you couldn't remember anything you read? In this article I want to reveal to you my 5 techniques for studying less... but mostly better and passing the sommelier exam! Let me be clear that I am not going to tell you any magic tricks, you absolutely MUST study to pass the exam! However, giving you a method will be very useful to be more effective in the way you do it!

But what are the fundamental pillars of these techniques?


Are you ready? Let's get started 😉

"To acquire knowledge, one must study, but to acquire experience, one must observe."

M. Vos Savant'

Do you want to pass the Sommelier exam?

1. Learn to concentrate: avoid libraries, study rooms and crowded places.

'Nothing takes you away from the goal like distracting yourself from it'.

Avoid like the plague:

  • the home of your friendsstudy groups are absolutely counterproductive! Yes to passing notes to each other, yes to arranging study material together, yes to meeting once a week for a couple of hours to take quizzes... but study NO! STUDY AT HOME, ALONE, IN SILENCE! The study group only means that you will adapt your pace to that of the slower student and the distractions will become exponential! To be avoided at all costs!
  • the study roomif at the age of 30 you still haven't realised that you go to the study room not to study, I don't know what to do... really: your cause is lost!
  • the library: don't tell me you need library books to become a sommelier! The library is great for reading a book, but certainly not functional for becoming a wine expert! Libraries are just places where it is easy to lose concentration because they are full of distractions (cute boys, books, CDs, junk food machines...).

Do you want to pass the Sommelier exam?

2. Prepare the environment: eliminate everything superfluous.

"Out of sight, out of mind."


And how right he was! To study less you have to study better: optimise your environment to improve the quality of the time you spend studying. The first thing you have to ask yourself is "What do I need to study?" Yes to a book, a notebook, a pen (that works)... No to all the distractions: smartphones, the internet connection of the computer/tablet, TV... I've seen too many people complain about the hours they spent studying... but when I analysed the time they actually spent on books it was really derisory! Too many distractions, texting, chatting... really, I'm telling you this from the heart... it's useless for you to say you studied 8 hours straight if you interspersed them every 15 minutes with a text message or whatsapp message... you didn't really study, you just wasted time!

Well, let's start again together... what do you have on the table now? Eliminate everything you don't really need... and as soon as you're done with distractions... start eliminating books too!

How? The books? Exactly! Too many books on the table create performance anxiety, decision fatigue and above all a great waste of time. Becoming an AIS sommelier is no picnic! The syllabus is vast and constantly evolving, and even if you were to go through it all, you would definitely leave something out! So concentrate on the things you know for sure that you will find in the exam (the wine tasting sheet and the food/wine pairing sheet) which also give you a lot of points, then tackle everything else. And remember:

"At any given time, the fewer decisions you make, the better they are."

Do you want to pass the Sommelier exam?

3. Fix the arguments: learn to link concepts to emotions.

"I really believe that there are things that nobody can see before they are photographed."

The emotion inside a click by photographer Simone Malatesta

Here, a practical example is urgently needed... I have an extraordinary photographic memory... but at the same time I struggle to remember my mother's name (this is an exasperation to tell you that I don't remember names of course: her name is Pierpaola!)... so I was really worried when I was studying DOCs and DOCGs... it was really impossible for me to remember them! By the way, do you know what DOC they asked me on the day of the exam?  So Laura and I came up with the brilliant idea of associating them with love intrigues! How? No, we have not gone mad! I'll give you an example with Sardinia:

Monica di Sardegna is engaged to Girò di Cagliari who in turn is a cousin of Nasco di Cagliari who is none other than Monica's first boyfriend.

Does this sound crazy? Maybe... but in the meantime these are the first DOCs I've remembered! And that's not all: that day Laura and I promised each other that if we became sommeliers on the first exam roll we would tattoo Monica's 'M' on our middle finger... and so it was... Laura gave me a tattoo identical to hers for my birthday... she just got it done... I'll get it this week... brrrr let's hope it doesn't hurt too much!

[N.B. In the end I didn't get any tattoos and I also got tired of Laura's way of life... although I will always love her!]

Do you want to pass the Sommelier exam?

4. Learn to study fast, i.e. learn to read fast!

"Even if you don't read, stay close to those who do. Unlike smoking, passive reading is good for you."

As dear Nicola Brunialti, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on Twitter several years ago, says, passive reading is great: you can learn so much from your colleague's culture and study, simply by listening.

However, you also have to resign yourself to reading, and this is where reading speed comes in.

I am convinced that reading speed is crucial for quality study. Some might tell me that fast does not mean well, but I am talking about fast and well, that is, understanding how much you read. I'll give you some good news right away: reading speed is something you learn. How? By reading a lot. I read on average at least 12 books a year now that I am short of time... (but I have promised myself to read more again...) but until 3/4 years ago I was reading over 100 books a year in all genres! And I noticed one thing: the more I read, the faster I read.

How fast can you read? Do this now speed reading test and write your result in a comment!

My tip for reading faster is to move your eyes quickly, never going back. It may sound trite, but it works! And above all... don't force yourself to understand every word! Rather read the paragraph twice, but learn to be fast! (and you'll see that in time there won't be anything you don't understand! You will be better than a dictionary!)

Do you want to pass the Sommelier exam?

5. The photographic memory is your best ally: use it!

Always on the wave of my beloved Ludwig Mies van der Rohe:

"Less is more' Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

I propose you adopt the same theory when it comes to photographic memory. How? SEE LESS, REMEMBER MORE. Basically, learn to memorise with your eyes closed... and recall the same concepts with your eyes closed! It helps you focus without distraction (and here we come back to points 1 and 2).

To activate your photographic memory, 'stare' at the books as if they were pictures, striving to remember the position of the words, of the pictures... focus on the whole and not on the details... look at the words as if they were blocks of pictures!

What photographic memory do you have? Do this now photographic memory test and write your result in a comment!

A little trick to focus more and improve your results? How many times as a child did they make you spit out your gum at school? Nothing could be more wrong: you chew gum if you are studying! Yes, you got that right! You should chew gum while studying to increase your concentration! Research by a Japanese radiology institute a couple of years ago showed that chewing gum stimulates concentration and improves your short-term memory. By means of an MRI scan, it was discovered that people who chew gum activate 8 more areas of the brain than those who do not. The increased attention span can therefore be explained by either increased cerebral blood flow or increased relaxation resulting from the act of chewing. So... fuck rudeness! Concentrating on what the person in front of you tells you is absolutely the greatest form of respect you can give them.

In short... to pass the exam and become a sommelier you need to study... I hope with these tips I have helped you to reduce the quantity and increase the quality of your study time! As always, the best gift you can give me to thank me for this article is to leave me a comment below... thank you from the bottom of my heart!

A hug, Chiara

PS I salute you by leaving you useful resources for the exam... and I anticipate that I am working on an article on France that is really challenging but will help you a lot!

Here are some of my articles that I absolutely recommend you read:

As always good luck and... let's get this wolf drunk!!! 😝🍀🍷

Have you already bought my book for aspiring sommeliers 'How to become a Sommelier'?

There are all my notes summarised, I promise you it will be very useful for reviewing!


Book 'Sommelier: the Illustrated Manual' Special Edition 2022

(389 customer reviews)

All my notes on wine and food in one book. The handbook is designed for all aspiring sommeliers, but is also very useful for 'already sommeliers' who want to brush up, for winelovers who want to start putting their passion on a firm footing, and for professionals who want to earn more money by learning both how to manage their restaurant cellar and how to sell the right bottle to their customers.

  • Special Edition: 8 June 2022 - format 15 x 21 cm, 592 black and white pages printed on Crush Uva paper, ISBN 978-88-943070-3-0 [2nd Reprint April 2023].

 26,00 30,00 VAT included!

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