To become a "Master of Wine" one has to clear the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam, one of the toughest tests to crack. Only about 200 individuals have cleared it as of 2013.
A sommelier, also referred to as a wine steward, is not just any ordinary person standing in a restaurant to blindly serve his customers. He is a highly skilled individual who aids diners in selecting a wine that perfectly blends with their meal. This requires special understanding of the wine composition, its making, and how it could affect a particular dish if not paired correctly. He has to be intellectual, with prudent skills to deal with the customers and talk to them about what is best for them.
A professional sommelier works in tandem with the culinary team and is also available on the floor of the restaurant to guide his patrons. His most important job involves procuring wine, storing it, rotating it in a cellar, and providing excellent service to his patrons.
Duties and Responsibilities
Preparing the menu for wines
Doing away with wines that are more than 10 years old
Having precise knowledge of wine storage
Managing the stock-taking of the wine cellar
Advising diners on how to drink/enjoy wine
Describing the taste and aroma to the diners
Knowing the temperature your wine glass should be at for an optimal taste
Recommending more than one drink that pairs with the meal that's served
Training the restaurant staff in his area of expertise
As a sommelier, one can avail a job in various faculties that deal with wines. Accordingly, some of the specific duties are outlined as under.
✦ In a Restaurant
- He should be able to place an order for a wine.
- He must be able to maintain and rotate the wine stock.
- It is essential for him to possess knowledge of preparing a drink.
- He needs to enhance the drinking experience of the diners.
- He needs to select and order wines that best fit the menu.
✦ Other Places
- He is required to have an extensive knowledge of the grape varieties and vintages used.
- He is compelled to develop and undertake training courses, and also conduct sessions at the local restaurants.
- He is supposed to organize and host winery tours. This will come to the aid of visitors who will learn how to choose wines that match their taste preferences.
- He is expected to arrange the beverage schedule for spas, casinos, or resorts.
- He can also commence his own wine mercantile establishment.
- He may opt for informal training in teaching of wine courses.
- He can choose to go for article writing that would supply knowledge about wines in a magazine.
Becoming a Sommelier
A professional course in this field is offered by the Culinary Institute of America. Once a candidate clears this course, he will be a Certified Wine Professional. The Court of Master Sommeliers is another internationally recognized authority where interested candidates can complete an introductory course before they attempt the certified sommelier examination. This exam puts to test the candidate's skills and expertise, and the one who clears this exam is considered rare and exceptional in this field.
✦ Work Experience
- He requires adequate experience as a sommelier in a hotel or restaurant with a good reputation.
- He should have attended seminars, courses, conferences, etc., on a regular basis.
- He must possess in-depth information of wines along with its source.
- His knowledge on how to make wine will be an added advantage.
- It is essential for him to be aware about the countries and vineyards where wine is prepared.
According to indeed.com
, the average salary range of sommeliers in the US is USD 56,000 annually, depending on where the person is working and also the experience he holds in this field.
In the end, an extensive knowledge of wines, a sensitive palate, and a remarkable sense of smell are skills that are a mark of an efficient sommelier who knows his job well.