What is a wine sommelier? A Handy Guide

So…what exactly is a wine sommelier? If you’ve been around wine lovers or if you’re in the restaurant business, you may have heard the term ‘sommelier’ being bounced around. It’s hard not to, given how trendy this profession has become lately – and for good reason. A wine sommelier with expert knowledge of wines can take a dining experience to the next level.

We’re here to break down for you about what sommeliers do, who makes a good sommelier and how to become a sommelier. Read on…

What does a wine sommelier do?

A wine sommelier, also known as a wine steward, is someone in charge of selecting and serving wines at restaurants. But don’t take them for mere waiters or waitresses. Wine sommeliers are trained, certified professionals in all things ‘wine,’ from proper wine storage and wine and food pairings, to wine service and expert knowledge of different wine varieties.

While most sommeliers can be found recommending and serving wine to customers at a fine dining establishment, sommelier responsibilities have expanded to include more behind-the-scenes tasks, such as teaming up with chefs to create dishes that will complement particular wines, curating a restaurant’s wine list and managing the wine inventory.

What makes a good sommelier?

If you consider yourself a wine connoisseur, chances are you’re cut out to be a wine sommelier. But this profession requires a little more than just a love of wine. You must have the drive to learn about all things wine, as this will come in handy when you start working in a fine dining establishment.

Being certified as a wine sommelier is an excellent choice if you’re already in the restaurant or hospitality industries, as you’ll be equipped with more skills that make you an asset, not only to restaurants, but also to customers.

Additionally, because you’ll be interacting both with guests and with restaurant staff, great sommeliers are respectful, courteous, creative and knowledgeable – and that’s where certification comes in.

How can you become a sommelier?

Being a wine sommelier goes beyond knowing how to pour wine. To be a sommelier, you must have a passion for wine and a hunger for knowledge. Both of these will be helpful to get through the often rigorous training required to become a wine sommelier.

What does this training entail? There are four wine sommelier certification levels you can strive for through the Court of Master Sommeliers. These levels include Introductory Sommelier, Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier and Master Sommelier, and must be completed sequentially. The Certified Sommelier certification is the minimum level you need to reach in order to work as a wine sommelier, while the Master Sommelier is a level few have achieved, due to the advanced knowledge and experience it requires.

At the end of your sommelier training, you’ll find yourself armed with strong wine-tasting skills, knowledge of wine and beverage theory and experience in wine service etiquette—from knowing which wines to choose to decanting wine properly. Sounds good? We certainly think so.

Until next time…

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