What it really takes to be a sommelier

If you have been working in a restaurant or a bar, then being a sommelier must have crossed your mind. Sommeliers are well paid, have an impressive work profile, and have a respectable fast career track scope. However, to reach this stage you need a lot of preparation.

Here is the complete guide on what it takes to have a bright future as a sommelier for those who love wine and are ready to work hard. 

From understanding what a sommelier is to the various certifications that one needs to achieve to be a certified sommelier, we cover them.

Before we delve into the details, let us first understand who a sommelier is?

What is a sommelier? 

A sommelier is a knowledgeable and trained wine steward who works in the hospitality industry. They can help you to choose the right wine to celebrate the occasion and make it a memorable one. Sommeliers go through an intensive wine education run by professional organizations. The word sommelier is used for certification as well as for a job title.

In order to get the sommelier certification a candidate is tested based on three parameters that are wine theory, testing and service and has to go through four certification levels. A sommelier should possess good communication skills, understand the entire winemaking process, create tasteful wines and get a sommelier certification.

Wine Theory

The sommelier needs to be trained academically and have complete knowledge of the kind of grapes, the wine region, its geography, and the history of the wine.

Wine Tasting

The first level of sommelier training introduces the students to the various tastes of wine. The final level will test the sommeliers’ understanding of wine tasting. The sommelier should have in-depth knowledge of how the wine interacts with all the senses.

Wine Service

The sommelier works in the service industry, and his main role is to help guests choose their wine, present it and then serve it to them. So, it is important for a sommelier to be very amicable and be good with his communication.

The following are the core responsibilities of a sommelier:

  • Develop the wine list and the wine program of the restaurant
  • Train the restaurant staff about the wine quality
  • Manage the inventory of the wine
  • Work along with the culinary team to understand what is the ideal wine and food pairing.
  • Speak with the patron and then offer recommendations and answer their questions
  • Knowledge of correct wine glass usage
  • Get knowledge of all the beverages that the restaurant serves.
  • Knowledge or correct wine storage (ageing wine, wine fridge, cellaring, wine racks)

How to become a sommelier

There are no mandatory government requirements or regulations to become a sommelier. However, you need the sommelier certification to be hired as one. Some of the top institutions around the world that offer the sommelier certification are listed below.

Wine & Spirit Education Trust

They conduct their training in four levels and have several teaching and exam centers worldwide. Their courses are available online, which makes them easily accessible.

Institute of Masters of Wine

The ones who attend the course are certified as MW or a Master of Wine. The course is self-directed which focuses on academic production and original research. The institute offers a mix of residential and non-residential courses, and there is a lot of emphasis on research and academic papers.

Court of Master Sommeliers

They offer four certification levels, and the attendee gets the Certified and Master Sommelier certifications after the exam. The course is an offline classroom program where one gets to develop an in-depth knowledge of wine theory, service, and tasting. 

Level 1 is an introductory course that is theoretical, explains the beverages, and introduces the wine tasting and service etiquette.

Level 2 is a certified course that examines the student on the theory of tasting and service.

Level 3 is the advanced course, which is a 3-day course that teaches the concept of wine at a deeper level. 

Level 4 is the Masters program, and the student has to appear for an examination.

International Sommelier Guild

They offer three wine courses, each available either in a classroom or an online setting.

Other Online Wine Courses

The below schools do not offer you any certification, but they are useful if you wish to expand your knowledge about wines. They are

Wine Spectator School
Napa Valley Wine Academy
Cornell University Wine Certificate

How much can you earn as a sommelier?

A sommeliers’ salary differs based upon the bar or the brand you work for. This is based on the level at which the sommelier is at. Compared to the salary earned by a bar manager, the sommeliers out-earn them with the same number of years of experience in the hospitality industry.

Conclusion:

We have covered all the information you need to know about a sommelier’s job role and how to climb this career ladder. The pay is good, and you can earn a good reputation as a sommelier. If you love wine, then a sommelier is the right career choice for you.

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