Photo by Courtney Perry

The Metropolitan Grill’s Thomas Price got some fancy new bling today when it was announced he had passed the exceptionally rigorous Court of Master Sommeliers master’s exam. The gold pin he’s now sporting signifies he’s among fewer than 200 other men and women around the world to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Nearly 600 have tried.

Before today only four other Washingtonians—Gramercy’s Greg Harrington (who also serves as chairman of the Court), Canlis and Washington Wine Commission alum Shayn Bjornholm, the Fairmont’s Joseph Linder, and Pasco’s Angelo Taverno —held the distinction of Master Sommelier.

In order to even sit for the master sommelier diploma exam, candidates must have first completed an introductory course and passed the certified and advanced sommelier exams. The master’s exam consists of three parts: an theory examination, a practical wine service examination, and a blind tasting of six wines. During the tasting, the candidate has 25 minutes to identify the vintage, grape variety(s), country, region and appellation of the wine. From 2003 to 2011, the pass rate for the exam has been as low as 3.5 percent and as high as 16 percent. Averaged out, fewer than 12 percent of candidates pass the exam.

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