Select Page

The job of a sommelier is to curate the wine list for a restaurant, pair the wines with the dishes, and train the service staff about all matters related to wine. Some sommeliers work their way up and some undertake formal training; most do both, since both academic knowledge of wines and a true understanding of the service industry are necessary to become an in-demand sommelier.

Work at Restaurants

A sommelier is part of the service team, so understanding what the other team members do is critical. Working service and back-of-house positions provide valuable knowledge about all aspects of restaurant work. Also, working with experienced mentors teaches things that classrooms just can’t. Try to work your way into a position at a restaurant with excellent management and skilled sommeliers so that you can learn on the job.

Get Certified

There are plenty of reputable sommelier education and certification programs out there, and it’s a good idea to choose one that’s targeted to your particular interests and learning style. The best courses will cover the basics of high-end hospitality work, viticulture, enology, wine regions, varietals, and food pairing.

The goal of these classes is to prepare future sommeliers to sit the certification exams offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Certifications include Certified Sommelier, Advanced Sommelier, and Master Sommelier. Candidates must have passed the introductory course and be recommended by a Master Sommelier.

Network and Travel

A sommelier’s professional development doesn’t end with the lapel pin. Engaging with other professionals in the fine dining and wine industries helps keep sommeliers current in their knowledge and abreast of all the latest trends. It’s important to learn from a mentor, work with people at your own level, and eventually mentor new sommeliers yourself. This is a world where personal contacts are paramount.

Sommeliers should travel to as many wine-growing regions as they can. Immersing yourself in the wine culture by eating in local restaurants, visiting the vineyards, and meeting the winemakers will help you truly understand the wines you serve.