If you adore wine or find yourself becoming highly knowledgeable about its consumption, you may be in for a career as a sommelier. Sommeliers are highly trained individuals that specialize in the consumption of wine and related alcohol products.
What Is a Sommelier?
Sommelier are essentially experts in wine. Wine is an exceptionally complex industry that often requires years of study. A sommelier not only studies wine but also which meals and pairings are acceptable for which types of wine.
Wine can change from year to year and depending on the batch that is harvested from a specific grape orchard, and this is where sommeliers become exceptionally important. There is more of an emphasis on a sommelier in a fine dining restaurant than an ordinary restaurant, but sommeliers are found everywhere.
In many restaurants, wine sales will exceed the sales of the ordinary restaurant staff. Wine sales are based on the sommelier and their advisement, and this makes the position of the wine staff exceptionally important. Many wine sales may be hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and together this elevates the importance of the wine staff often beyond the food personnel.
What Does a Sommelier Do?
A sommelier is exceptionally knowledgeable about the flavors and notes in wines. Often a sommelier will have years of training in matching these notes with the appropriate foods. Different wines will be suited to different types of foods, sauces and production types.
The sommelier will be an expert in matching a drink with the food that is being served and will elevate the food with the wine pairing.
Sommeliers in many restaurants will need to be salespeople. They will need to sell restaurant visitors on more expensive types of wine for a variety of reasons. Many sommeliers actually work on a commission basis and many of them work in the food industry as servers as a method to sell more wines.
How Do You Become a Sommelier?
In low end restaurants and less developed establishments, a sommelier is often a wait staff member that has shown a particular interest in wines.Sommeliers are not required to undergo any particular training, though it is preferable.
Sommeliers in higher end restaurants, however, usually need to go through a particular licensing program such as the Certified Sommelier Exam and need to be certified under some form of authority.
Many sommeliers who desires the title will have wine testing lessons and will learn the individual notes that wines are comprised of and how these notes can aid particular dishes and particular meals. The art of wine tasting and wine suggesting is extremely complex, but it can be entered into on an entry-level basis by apprentices or those interested in the field.
How Do You Advance as a Sommelier?
A wine expert will usually advance simply by virtue of being hired by more prestigious establishments. Wine experts will usually not run their own businesses, but a sommelier hired by a particularly prestigious restaurant will be extremely highly paid and will often be able to set their own hours and compensation. A very gifted sommelier may be able to create their own drink menu and may be able to delegate other tasks to other individuals.
Sommeliers may also be able to become beverage managers for larger companies and may eventually be able to become management for restaurants with additional training, such as a degree in business.
However, a sommelier will usually become a master sommelier, which is still usually a staff position within a restaurant. Master sommeliers are often certified under companies such as the Court of Master Sommeliers.