The Court of Master Sommeliers is an exclusive club, requiring extensive study, dogged determination, and a little bit of good luck (getting France as a region to blind taste rather than, say, South Africa or Chile) in order to get that final M.S. diploma. Currently only 129 people in North America can call themselves master sommeliers.
The first level on the way to getting that coveted M.S. designation is an introductory course and exam, covering basic wine knowledge. The second level is the certified sommelier, which gives eager oenophiles a one-day exam to test their wine knowledge. Charleston has a respectable number of certified sommeliers including Brad Ball and Christian Broder of Social. This second level is not easy to pass, but it's cake compared to the third sommelier test, which Andrew Marshall of Charleston Grill just aced to become an advanced sommelier, one of only three in Charleston. The others are Marshall's mentor Rick Rubel at Charleston Grill and Patrick Emerson of the Maverick restaurants. Clint Sloan, formerly of McCrady's, was also an advanced sommelier but he left for New York last year.
Getting an advanced certification basically requires exposure to a variety of different wines, as much travel as possible, and plenty of study. For Sloan, it took months and months of hitting the books and tasting as many wines as possible. Charleston Grill's General Manager Mickey Bakst says it's been great watching Rubel take Marshall under his wing and share his knowledge.
Congrats to Marshall and the Charleston Grill for stepping up their impressive wine game.