What is a sommelier?
Also known as a wine waiter, or a wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional at the service of wine to guests making objective wine assessments and recommendations.
To be successful, a sommelier must know how wine is supposed to taste, using their expertise about grape varieties or regions along with harvest times, climates, soils and the overall winemaking processes, quality of producers, top brands, and many other wine characteristics necessary for wine evaluation and for pairing wine with food. This in-depth understanding helps the sommelier to answer a vast number of questions from guests. In addition to being knowledgeable, they are educators and salespeople. They must be good communicators and quick to meet the needs of the guests and deal with unusual service situations. A successful sommelier is also a cultured person, refined, unobtrusive, witty and sociable, with a goal to peak the guest’s interest in food as well as wine and spirits.
Sommeliers in-depth understanding of wine can be put to good use in a variety of settings. Frequently described as a restaurant professional working with wines, the term sommelier is also used by extension for beer, spirits, cocktails, sake, even coffee and tea. Today many sommeliers work outside the hospitality business, for beverage distributors, as educators or are simply passionate about learning more about wine.
Whether it’s a fine dining establishment or in a more casual concept, the list of duties will be similar. The sommeliers key role is to be able to advise the guests according to their personal needs, related to their taste, the food and wine pairing, the budget or the occasion.
While considering the clientele and the food served, the sommelier’s responsibilities also consist of selecting wines, creating drink lists and managing inventory and storage. The sommelier has to create and maintain a wine list fitting the concept they work in.
Additionally, sommeliers are in charge for training on wine and other beverages by conducting tastings. The sommelier needs to be able to pass on knowledge and train the staff.