Have you ever wondered just who decided that filet mignon goes best with red wine? Wine pairings are an integral part of fine dining and oftentimes that means a sommelier, an expert wine consultant, is nearby. A sommelier possesses a working knowledge of diverse wines and vintages and is trained in the art of pairing food with wine. These match-ups are created as a way to enhance the meal”s (and the wine”s) flavor.
What a Sommelier Consultant Does
Sommeliers can be found in fine restaurants, high-end establishments, vineyards and other food or drink-associated facilities. To be a certified sommelier or wine steward, one must pass courses at the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). The ISG holds classes in 20 states in the U.S., in six Canadian provinces and in two institutions in China.
Sommelier consultants are trained to assist people in choosing the best wine to fit their meal, tastes and budget. These specialists study and understand the intricate variations in each type of wine and are skilled at creating a rapport with customers to ascertain their particular tastes.
Sommelier consultants also:
- coordinate storage and wine cellar rotation
- create wine lists
- decant wines
- do procurement
- own vineyards
- serve wine
- train staff on wines.
Wine stewards, or sommeliers, have to travel a great deal for their jobs. They must visit vineyards across the country, if not the world, and take part in industry events. Their travel experiences also help sommeliers design the perfect wine list for their restaurants.
The highest rank for wine stewards is Master Sommelier. This position is awarded by the Court of Master Sommeliers. There are reportedly less than 160 people who have ever reached the status of Master Sommelier worldwide.
Questions to Ask the Sommelier
Often, patrons will be greeted by a sommelier during the early part of a dining experience at a fine restaurant. Sommeliers tend to work the floor of high-end restaurants and interact directly with diners in order to help them decide what wine best pairs with their meal.
When approached by the expert, ask the sommelier his opinion on what wine and food pairing would be best, based on your preferences. If you have a hankering for a specific food item or type of wine, don”t be shy to ask the sommelier what would work best for your craving – after all, that is why he or she is there!
If you are interested in trying a wine from a certain region, ask a sommelier for his opinion on what you should order. They are trained to know the history of wine, what type of grape was used and where the wine comes from, which means that they even know the vineyard where the wine was made.
When you order a wine from the sommelier consultant, expect to get some fancy table service. The expert will open the bottle for you and pour a taste, which you are encouraged to smell and sample. The sommelier will guide you as you smell the wine and help you identify what scents you should be experiencing.