Of all the unusual and rare professions people might pursue, that of a Sommelier seems to be one of the most intriguing and sometimes misunderstood. Sommelier is not only a beautiful word of French origin to denote someone who performs the duties of a wine steward. Sommelier is often a highly trained professional who has a much wider scope of duties: from creating a wine list for the restaurant to extensive traveling to numerous vineyards where the grapes are grown.
To an outsider, it may seem that the job of a sommelier is nothing more than a lot of fun: trying new wines, attending food and wine shows, tasting wine and food etc. While this is genuinely a part of the sommelier profession, as he needs to be current on new trends and changes in the industry, there is much more to it, if we are speaking of a good wine sommelier.
Sommelier won’t only advice you on which wine will best complement which food on the menu. He will also be able to answer any tricky questions regarding beverages on the whole. For example, if you are interested in grapes the particular wine was made of, regions where these grapes were grown, or different vintages of the wines, sommelier will be happy to share his expert knowledge with you.
A sommelier is well trained in the art of pairing food with wine, as wine pairings make an integral part of fine dining experience and right match-ups complement and enhance the meal’s and the wine’s taste and flavor. A sommelier is also the one who coordinates storage and rotates the wine cellar, does procurement, decants wines and serves them.
Fine restaurants, vineyards, spa, resorts and other food or drink-associated facilities are the types of businesses where sommeliers are likely to find employment. Besides, a wine sommelier may also teach or write about wines, offer training courses for restaurants or wineries staff, host wine tours, manage beverages in a hotel or casino etc.
Interest in fine wines involves much more than just a liking for this type of alcoholic beverage. This is a unique world with its set of knowledge, traditions and rules, which gives you a special wine culture experience. No wonder many wine-lovers go beyond enjoying a glass of wine now and then and want to make a career in this interesting and rewarding industry.
Did you know that there are only 171 Master Sommeliers in the world? Master Sommelier is the highest rank for wine stewards, the status which can be awarded by the Court of Master Sommeliers after a candidate has passed four levels of examinations.
The Court of Master Sommeliers is an internationally recognized organization which offers serious training for sommeliers. Training includes the Introductory Sommelier Course, the Certified Sommelier Exam, the Advanced Sommelier Course and the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. However, to attempt the Introductory Sommelier Course exam, candidates should already possess some experience in the industry; for example, they should have beverage retail or restaurant background.
Sommeliers pass written exams, service exams, and blind tasting exams. The latter requires the candidate to taste several wines and identify not only the wine type and the country of origin, but also the grape, the type of oak used, aspects of the aroma, as well as the vintage of the wine. Besides being able to identify types of wine and to give comprehensive information on every aspect of it, The Master Sommelier Diploma Exam involves excellent knowledge of restaurant service and salesmanship, cigar, beer, and spirit knowledge, international wine laws for various countries and more.
Another popular educational institution for sommeliers is the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). It also offers an extensive education in food and wine, and has an accreditation program for sommeliers.
Besides proper education and qualification, sommeliers need to have good customer facing skills, communication skills, a good personality, and a genuine passion for this profession. They need to interact directly with diners and make their dining experience really exciting and interesting, ensuring the ease and comfort of each guest.
Their help with choosing wines is similar to teaching diners mini lessons, or rather giving them a master class on wines. The sommelier will open the bottle for you and pour a little wine into your glass, offering you to smell and sample it. He will help you learn how to taste wine, identify the scents and express what you taste and smell.
Sommeliers play an important role in building the reputation and financial success of restaurants. When you come to the high-end restaurant and want to order a bottle of wine, you are likely to be greeted by a sommelier at the beginning of your evening. He will assist you in selecting the best match for the meal you choose. Your personal tastes and budget will also be taken into account. Your sommelier will be your guide into the world of wines and fine dining to make it a very special and memorable experience for you.