What is a Sommelier?
On the topic of the wine industry, most times, people use the word Sommelier or “Somm” for short, to talk about anyone and everyone who works in the world of wine.
I am here to tell you that is not technically true.
Let’s dive in…
Breaking it down!
To take it back to the core, sommeliers are experts in wine. They are individuals that work in restaurants, create wine programs, and serve wine to patrons in a dining setting. And not just your average joe type of restaurant, most sommeliers are found offering their services in fineeee AF restaurants.
Commonly, sommeliers have the main (and important) duty of creating and curating wine lists. To do so, they regularly attend events around the world such as wine tastings and conventions.
On top of it all, Somm’s tackle backend tasks such as placing orders, receiving deliveries, training employees, and managing inventory.
So yes, your somm does more than only serving you a crisp glass of Riesling. 😉
A French Origin 🇫🇷
Surprise, surprise, sommelier is a French word! If you’re wondering how to pronounce the word, sound out so-moe-lyé.
Or to make life easier, saying somm is just as cool!
Somm Qualifications 📝
Do you want to become a somm?
There are three main institutions when it comes to sommelier education:
A) The Court of Master Sommeliers
B) International Sommelier Guild
C) Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
Technically, you don’t NEED a qualification or certificate to work as a Sommelier. BUT, they are helpful in securing a position. Above all, they’ll make you feel more confident in the world of wine by increasing your knowledge.
INSIDER TIP: Whether you decide to obtain a qualification or not, a fantastic way to get your foot in the door is to get a front-of-house position (server, hostess, host, etc.) at a fine dining restaurant. You’ll gain tremendous experience that relates to the position, such as customer service, restaurant operations, and most importantly, you’ll be surrounding yourself with wine all day!
The Industry at a Glance 🍾
The industry is changing. More and more people are becoming somms with no qualifications.
And guess what? That is OK!
It can typically be made up for with superior talent, a strong work ethic, personal research, and experience.
Today, the role of a somm has taken a BIG hit from the emergence of the pandemic. Many restaurants had to shut their doors for long periods of time. So with that, came job losses for many. Only time will tell how this will balance back out.
The reality is, even though wine programs are so important to the restaurant, somms are not getting the credit that they deserve. Most times, restaurants make money off the wine sales, thus somms are an important role in bringing in that cash flow.
I’m really hopeful that they will all get their jobs back and the restaurant/somm relationship will THRIVE!
My Best Advice?
I often hear people say “I don’t think I’m going to listen to my Sommelier, they’re just trying to take my money and make a buck!” 🤦♀️
Listen up, dear wine lover, your somm is there to help YOU! They’re there to give you the wine you want, the wine you love, and the wine you are soon to love. The next time you are at a restaurant, pick their brain! Ask them for advice, have a real convo and ask them what they think is cool right now. Don’t forget to be honest about your price point, they will respect it. They are on your side.
TRUST YOUR SOMMELIER!
Is there someone you know who is interested in becoming a somm? Share this with them!
And don’t forget to write SOMM in the comments below if you are now going to trust your Sommelier the next time you’re out! 😉