A sommelier is an expert in the beverage industry. They have demonstrated their ability to sell, provide exceptional tableside service, recommend wine, beer, and cocktails, and evaluate for taste. These professionals have a deep knowledge of the wine regions around the world and can use that expertise to drive an establishment’s beverage inventory and/or customer’s beverage choice.
How to Become a Sommelier
Becoming a sommelier is no small feat. In fact, you can become a certified sommelier and then continue your experience and education to earn the prestigious title of Master Sommelier. To start your education, Court of Master Sommeliers offers training and various levels of exams you must pass. These exams increase in difficulty and are challenging to pass. The first two levels of training and exams will earn you a Certified Sommelier title once passed.
To become a Certified Sommelier, you must first take an exam on theory and take an Introductory Sommelier written exam. The training will educate you on the locations wine grows throughout the world and the difference this makes to the product. You’ll also learn how to evaluate and taste wine appropriately. After that, you would likely gain more experience in the food and wine industry while preparing to take your Certified Sommelier Examination. Again, this is a challenging examination as you are tested over one day on your tasting abilities, theory, and service.
After gaining your Certified Sommelier title, you may chose to continue the next two levels of education and exams to earn your Master Sommelier title. Few Certified Sommeliers have achieved this. In fact, only 269 people have earned the title as of Master Sommelier worldwide. The exclusiveness of this title is well respected and those that have earned the title often work at high end establishments. Master Sommeliers can earn considerably more than their certified counterparts. Wages vary by employer and location.
Job Description of a Sommelier
Check out a video produced by Quench Magazine. The video interviews Sommelier Brie Dema who works at George Restaurant based in Toronto, Canada.
A sommelier can be expected to research, recommend and order wine for their employer and may help with the promotions of new wine offerings. This may also include managing the budget for purchases and working with vendors interested in selling their own products. Once they obtain their inventory, storage is also a vital component of their job as they must know what temperature to store each type of wine in. They would also be responsible to ensure any high-priced inventory is secure.
If the sommelier works at a location where people dine, they will also help with wine pairing recommendations and educate their guests on the origins of the wine. Since sommeliers are so experienced, they may provide training to other employees so they can educate guests on the wine menu and also ensure the proper glassware is used.
Those in this profession should have excellent customer service skills. On the technical end, they must also be experienced tasters and keen observers of their products. Knowledge of food and it’s various ingredients is also vital in order to recommend wine pairings to enhance a diner’s experience.
Teacher and Student Resources
The Court of Master Sommeliers offers a Deductive Tasting Journal pdf (link opens in a new tab) that you can print. Reviewing this journal you can gain a glimpse of just how demanding the examinations and training can be.
Another interesting resource worth watching is the documentary Somm produced in 2012. This follows 4 individuals who attempt to gain their Master Sommelier certification and just what the effort takes. The documentary is on Netflix. You can read more about the documentary on the Internet Movie Database website, IMBd.com (link opens in a new tab).