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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.
In addition to serving wine, a wine steward has several other responsibilities. These responsibilities include:
Many sommeliers travel all over the world to taste new wines 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.
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:
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:
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.
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What exactly is a Sommelier's education? What are the requirements to call yourself an official sommelier?
Successful sommeliers must be passionate about two things: wine and people. In a sense, a sommelier is a matchmaker, seeking to delight customers with perfect pairings of food and wine.