The word “sommelier” is derived from the Late Latin term sagma, meaning “pack saddle.” In Old French, the word somier meant “pack animal.” By the days of Middle French, the term “soumelier” had evolved to describe a court official who was responsible for supply transportation; the supply of wine was no doubt an important element in the bounty!

Today, the word “sommelier” has come to designate a wine steward who possesses expert knowledge about fine wines and is responsible for serving them.

Wine Sommelier Duties

The duties of a wine sommelier include:

  • creating or helping to create a wine list
  • knowing which wines will best complement items on the menu
  • maintaining wines
  • ordering wines
  • serving wines
  • training staff about wine.

A wine sommelier should possess detailed knowledge of the wines in their stock, including:

  • grapes used
  • regions where the grapes were grown
  • vineyards where the grapes were grown
  • vintages of the wines.

Many sommeliers travel extensively to try new wines and to attend food and wine shows. A good wine sommelier will be abreast of current trends in food and wine, as well as current trends and changes in the industry as a whole.

Good wine sommeliers will also help patrons feel comfortable about wines. They will likely help customers learn how to taste wine and express what they taste while helping them choose a delicious wine within their acceptable price. Sommeliers can learn about customers” tastes by encouraging them to share their experiences with other wines.

In general, a good wine sommelier will help his or her patrons” dining experience to be exciting and interesting. The wines that he or she suggests will enhance the flavors of the foods served and make the meal more memorable.

Sommelier Positions

Fine restaurants are not the only types of businesses that hire sommeliers. A wine sommelier may also find employment:

  • developing training courses for wineries or restaurants
  • managing beverages at casinos or tourist attractions
  • organizing and hosting wine tours
  • owning a wine shop
  • teaching about wines
  • writing about wines.

Wine Sommelier Education

The International Sommelier Guild (ISG) offers an education in food and wine, as well as an accreditation program for sommeliers. The accreditation program lasts for six months and meets one day a week for eight hours. In addition, the ISG offers a Grand Sommelier Diploma, for which a student must complete a combination of elective and mandatory courses from one of 24 specialties.

The Court of Master Sommeliers is an internationally recognized organization that trains sommeliers. The first step in the process of becoming a master sommelier is the Introductory Sommelier Course. This is followed by the Certified Sommelier Exam, the Advanced Sommelier Course and the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. Admission to the Court of Master Sommeliers is by invitation only, for those who have already become Master Sommeliers.

Sommeliers are not just wine-lovers who have taken a couple of extension courses in wine tasting. Many sommeliers are highly trained professionals who have refined their knowledge of wine through dedicated study.

 Posted on : May 16, 2014