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 […]
As interest in fine wines continues to grow in our culture, so have the demands for professionally trained sommeliers. A sommelier is a wine steward with expert knowledge about a variety of wines, the foods they pair best with, serving wine and different vintages. Various sommelier schools offer accreditation and sommelier certification programs for wine-lovers who are looking to pursue a career in the field. The Court of the Master Sommeliers The Court of the Master Sommeliers is a United Kingdom-based organization dedicated to improving the understanding of fine beverages and service. As one of the world”s most respected organizations offering sommelier accreditation, the Court of the Master Sommeliers bestows one of the most coveted sommelier certifications, the Master Sommelier. The different certification levels at the Court of the Master Sommeliers are: Introductory Course and Exam: This course”s materials will give a student an understanding of spirits, beers, wines and cigars from around the world. The cost of the class is about $500. Certified Exam: This is a three-part test that includes a written portion, a blind taste test and a service exam. Those who pass the test become a Certified Sommelier. The cost of the exam is roughly $300. Advanced Sommelier Course and Exam: To take this course and exam, you must have a minimum of five years” experience in the “wine/service” industry and must have passed the Introductory Sommelier Exam and the Certified Sommelier Exam. The Advanced Course delves into the industry in more depth. The cost of this course is roughly $900. Master Sommelier Diploma: This test is only available by invitation and costs $800. In 1969, the Court of Master Sommeliers had its first successful Master Sommelier test in England. The United States Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers opened in 1977. To date, fewer than 200 people worldwide are certified Master Sommeliers. The International Sommelier Guild The International Sommelier Guild is another well- respected sommelier school located in the United States, Canada and China. The sommelier accreditation runs as follows: Wine Fundamentals 1: This class covers the basics of wine, terminology, food pairings and service. Wine Fundamentals 2: Students learn about topics (such as appellation laws and viticulture) while building on topics learned in Wine Fundamentals 1. Students will also start blind testing. Sommelier Diploma Program: This is a more intensive program to develop professional sommeliers. The test for the Diploma has six sections, including essays. International Grand Sommelier Master”s Degree: This final program is a comprehensive study that ends with a five-part, 12? hour exam. It can take up to seven years to complete this course. Other Sommelier Certification Programs Other Sommelier accreditation programs include: American Sommelier Association: The American Sommelier Association offers a series of courses that can result in a Sommelier Certificate. Topics covered include vinticulture and vinification, as well as blind tasting. United States Sommelier Association: The U.S. Sommelier Association offers a Sommelier Certificate Course. Students can also take courses online.