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Matthew Kurtas – Cornell

Certified Sommelier

Road to Greatness


This February, nearly 40 candidates took the Court of Master Sommelier’s Certified Sommelier Exam at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, Massachusetts. Among the candidates was Brother Matthew Kurtas, New York Alpha #1886 & Iron Phi #355. The exam, which is held over the course of an entire day, was proctored by five of the some-230 Master Sommeliers in the world: Jesse Becker, Brahm Callahan, Scott Carney, Michael Meagher, and Dustin Wilson (from the movie Somm).  During the full-day exam, candidates were tested on their ability to blindly identify the characteristics, origins, and age ranges of an unknown red wine and unknown white wine, tested on their theoretical knowledge of wines from over ten countries (in those countries’ respective languages), and tested on their ability to professionally serve a table of guests in accordance to the etiquette guidelines of the Court of Masters.

Brother Kurtas is currently the Clubhouse Manager at the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club where he oversees all food and beverage programming for the summer-seasonal operation and the private membership of 300+ yachtsmen and social members. He is a member of the New England Club Managers Association and has published numerous articles for the Club Managers Association of America International Wine Society publication: The Grapevine.

In his time at Cornell University, Brother Kurtas devoted much of his studies to the practices of beverage service and sales at the School of Hotel Administration as well as the practice of winemaking in the Finger Lakes Region in the Cornell School of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  He has spoken to student groups and professionals about raising the bar, figuratively, when it comes to programming a proper wine list.

Matthew is a dynamic speaker, enthusiastic leader and merited mind in the hospitality industry.  As one of five kids, he knows the importance of sharing (even when you don’t want to) and team-building to create harmony among diverse groups and strong egos. In his speaking engagements, he enjoys discussing employee engagement for millennials and wine programming in clubs. He has traveled the world to dance with over 1,000 strangers, walked on 800 degree fiery hot coals, jumped out of a moving plane for fun, spent a summer working on Wall Street and even climbed a few mountains in his short time on this earth. He is an active member of the New England Club Managers Association of America, and he serves on Bylaws Committee for his national organization, the Club Managers Association of America, where he is working towards attaining Certified Club Manager status. He is a member of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals and is currently pursuing his Certified Hospitality Accounts Executive designation. To top things off, Matthew celebrates the 6-year anniversary of good health and recovery from brain surgery and a stroke this November!

Candidate Kurtas became Certified Sommelier Kurtas at the celebration ceremony that same afternoon as one of the candidates who passed the exam. The pass rate for the Certified Exam typically falls in the 60% range – this was true for the candidates in Boston. The Certified Level is the second step on a four stage path to Master Sommelier. To apply to take the Certified Exam, candidates are required to first pass their Introductory Level examinations through the Court, and candidates are recommended to have a minimum of three years of experience working in the food-and-beverage industry. More information on the Court of Master Sommeliers and their standards can be found at www.mastersommeliers.org.

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