If you have a passion for wine and are looking to make a career out of helping guests with wine tastings and pairings, becoming a sommelier may be right for you. Working in the wine trade can be an exciting and rewarding way to turn your passion and knowledge of wine into a career. Many sommeliers can work in high-end restaurants and receive formal training to advance their careers. How do you become a sommelier? Continue reading to learn more.
What Is a Sommelier?
Approximately 75% of adults drink wine, with 44% drinking at least a couple of glasses each week. A sommelier is a knowledgable wine professional who is typically employed within a fine dining establishment or winery. These individuals must undergo formal education paired with training and experience. As a result, they specialize in all aspects of wine tasting, service, pairing and storage.
Depending on the place of employment, a sommelier may take on a broader role than only suggesting wines to guests. In some cases, a sommelier may be in charge of creating unique wine lists for restaurants and working alongside chefs to develop dishes that complement the wines a restaurant may offer. Sommeliers working at a restaurant have many responsibilities, including:
- Recommending wines that pair well with dishes
- Answering any questions about wine or the wine list
- Creating and updating wine lists with restaurant managers and chefs
- Educating guests about a restaurant’s wine list
- Managing wine cellar inventory and stock
- Training restaurant staff on available wines
- Negotiating prices with wine vendors
- Organizing wine tasting events
- Ensuring all health and safety measures are met
Where to Work as a Sommelier
Many sommeliers are employed at high-end restaurants and work directly with restaurant guests to pair a delicious wine with their dinner. The place a sommelier might work will depend on their overall level of training and what they would like to achieve with their sommelier certification. There are numerous places where someone with extensive knowledge of wine may choose to work, including in a winery or vineyard.
Additionally, some sommeliers work at restaurants located in casinos or other attractions popular with tourists. Sommeliers may own their own wine store, educate future sommeliers about wine or even hold and conduct wine tours. Some sommeliers choose to pursue a career writing articles, reviews and other pieces on wine and the latest updates in the field.
What Education Is Required to Become a Sommelier?
To become a sommelier, formal and real-world education can help you succeed in the field. If you are just starting your journey towards becoming a sommelier, you will want to start small and gain real-world experience working in the service industry and learning the basics of wine and wine etiquette. If you are looking to become a sommelier, you may want to consider these four steps:
1. Experience in the Service Industry
Gaining experience in a restaurant is an excellent way to learn more about wine and food pairings. It can provide knowledge vital toward building a fundamental understanding of wine and beverage theory, which is helpful if you choose to receive formal sommelier training. Some levels of sommelier training may also require a certain amount of time working within the service industry.
2. Find a Sommelier Training
If you are looking to build a career with your knowledge of wine, you will want to consider formal sommelier training. A sommelier course and assessment can help you deepen your knowledge of wine and beverage theory so you can hone your skills.
3. Build Relationships
Networking plays an essential role in building a sommelier career. Building relationships with various professionals and restaurants can help you broaden your understanding of wine and complement your formal training. With the right connections, you may have a better chance of finding a job as a sommelier for a restaurant or other establishment after you receive your certification.
4. Travel and Learn
While formal training and on-the-job experience are vital aspects to help you grow as a sommelier, traveling can be one of the most beneficial things you can do to broaden your understanding of wine and strengthen your skills as a sommelier. Visiting various wine regions and meeting local winemakers allows you to strengthen your appreciation and absorb additional knowledge on wine culture.
How Many Levels of Sommeliers Are There?
There are four levels of sommelier training available, and each has its own requirements and features a certified sommelier examination. To become a certified sommelier, you will need to display a strong understanding of theoretical wine knowledge, wine tasting and wine service. While each level of sommelier training covers the same materials, each level continues a more in-depth look into these core topics.
Level 1 Sommelier
A level one sommelier studies the basics of wine etiquette and all the steps of serving wine. Additionally, level one sommelier certification often includes an introduction to deductive tasting methodology and wine and beverage theory review. A level one sommelier will begin developing the foundational understanding of theoretical wine knowledge.
Level 2 Sommelier
Certified sommeliers complete level two training designed to build upon the foundational knowledge of level one sommeliers. While level two covers the same topics as level one, the extent of the topics becomes deeper and more detailed. To be considered for level two sommelier certification, it is strongly recommended that potential candidates have a minimum of three years working in the hospitality industry.
Level 3 Sommelier
Level three sommelier certification requires participants to attend an advanced sommelier course and take an assessment. Participants must have a minimum of two years working in the restaurant service industry to qualify for the level three sommelier course. To qualify for the advanced assessment, participants must have completed the advanced sommelier course and have a minimum of three years working in the restaurant service industry.
Level 4 Sommelier
A master sommelier has passed the level four sommelier certification and is considered among the most educated wine professionals. Completing level four training earns participants a Master Sommelier Diploma from the Course of Master Sommeliers. Level four is the highest level a sommelier can reach, and there are only a few hundred of these professionals in the world. The level four sommelier assessment includes a verbal blind tasting section, a written theory section and a practical wine service section.
Wine Lovers Love USS Nemo
USS Nemo is an award-winning restaurant that offers delectable dishes and flavorful cuisine in a unique atmosphere. We have two sommeliers on deck that will be happy to assist you in your wine selection. We also have an impressive wine list menu for wine enthusiats. We offer fresh seafood paired with a tasty drink menu for a truly unforgettable dining experience. At USS Nemo, we offer a dish for every taste, whether you are looking for fresh seafood or traditional entrees. Our distinctive flavors are sure to make your lunch or dinner a scrumptious experience.
Visit the USS Nemo for delicious dishes and make your reservation today.
We can only seat complete parties for reserved tables. Please be sure your entire party has arrived before checking in with our hostess.
"With its subtle submarine motif and obvious seafood obsession, USS Nemo (239-261-6366) is among the most original restaurants on the Naples dining scene these days, and it has the fan base to prove it."
Chelle Koster Walton
"The miso broiled sea bass with citrus-ginger butter sauce is almost worth a trip to Naples in and of itself."
The New York Times
"I can tell you without hesitation, this is THE BEST and most consistent restaurant in Naples. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!"
"Most consistently great restaurant in Naples!"
Monday-Thursday 4:30-9:30 pm
Friday & Saturday 4:30-10:00 pm
Sunday 4:30-9:30 pm