What does a Sommelier do?

What is a Sommelier?

A sommelier or wine steward is a person who is an expert in fine wine and is responsible for serving it to patrons. Sommelier is French in origin and originally a wine steward's job was to serve royalty. Modern sommeliers offer their services to fine restaurants. A sommelier should know detailed information about wine including such things as the types of grapes used to make a particular wine, in what region the grapes were grown, the vineyards where the grapes were grown, a wine's rating, and the vintages of various wines.

What does a Sommelier do?

In addition to serving wine, a wine steward has several other responsibilities. These responsibilities include:

  • Creating wine lists for the restaurant
  • Knowing what wine will be best with different foods
  • Maintaining the wine
  • Ordering the wine
  • Training other employees about the basic knowledge of wines

Many sommeliers travel all over the world to taste new wine and to attend food and wine conventions. A good wine expert will know all the current trends in the food and wine industry. He or she will also help patrons to feel comfortable with tasting wines and help them choose a delicious wine in their price range. Sommeliers can also learn more about wine through the opinions of their customers.

In short, a good sommelier will be able to make the customer's dining experience memorable by suggesting wines that will enhance the flavour of the food that they are eating.

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How to become a Sommelier

One can gain some general knowledge and experience with wine by doing such things as getting a job as a waiter or waitress in an upscale restaurant, working for a wine retailer, obtaining a job pouring wine in a winery tasting room and simply talking to wine experts.

The International Sommelier Guild or ISG offers courses for aspiring wine experts. Their program is a six month-long intensive program that meets eight hours a day, once per week. Their students must complete certain elective and mandatory courses to get the Grand Sommelier Diploma.

The Court of Master Sommeliers is an internationally known organization that offers training to existing wine stewards who would like to become masters in their fields. Founded in Great Britain, this organization administered their first exam in 1969. To meet this goal, one must complete all the following steps:

  • Complete the Introductory Sommeliers Course
  • Pass the Certified Sommeliers Exam
  • Complete the Advanced Sommeliers Course
  • Pass the Master Sommeliers Diploma Exam

After successfully completing all the above steps, one may receive an invitation to join The Court of Master Sommeliers.

The Institute of Masters of Wine, which was also founded in Great Britain, has offered a Master of Wine Certification to those persons who complete their program and successfully pass their exam. There are only about 264 Master of Wine certificate holders and only 140 Master Sommeliers around the entire world.

What is the workplace of a Sommelier like?

Although many sommeliers work in upscale restaurants, there are many other places and ways he/she can earn his or her money as well. These include:

  • Working in casinos or tourist attractions
  • Owning his/her own wine store
  • Creating training classes for wineries or restaurants
  • Organizing and conducting wine tours
  • Teaching about fine wines
  • Writing articles about fine wines