How do I Become a Certified Sommelier?

Although anyone can call themselves a sommelier, a certified sommelier is someone who has completed a series of wine-related courses over the course of about six months and passed the certification exam. A certified sommelier can go on to become a master sommelier, grand sommelier, or master of wine with additional training. A sommelier usually works in a restaurant that serves a wide variety of wines and is in charge of wine and food pairings, customer service, staff training, wine list creation, and wine cellar stocking and maintenance.

Many different professional organizations and schools offer sommelier certification programs, and all courses and exams require tuition and fees. Employers may pay tuition and fees on behalf of their soon-to-be sommeliers, and programs are frequently divided into beginner and advanced levels. Many blind taste tests are common in courses, but students also learn about the history of winemaking. Other topics include where the main grape varieties are grown, key wine vocabulary like terroir and rootstock, how harvesting affects flavor, quality customer service, barrels, classic food and wine pairings, and identifying good wine glasses.

A prospective certified sommelier can take a certification exam after successfully completing a wine education or sommelier program. Certification exams vary program and institution, but they typically include a series of written questions, blind tastings, and a review of customer service. After completing the basic certification process, a sommelier can apply for admission to a more advanced program, such as the Court of Master Sommeliers’. Only about 200 people have earned a master sommelier diploma from the Court, a highly regarded international professional organization of sommeliers.

It is not necessary to have a college diploma to enroll in a wine education or sommelier certification program. A certified sommelier can distinguish himself or herself taking additional business and foreign language courses. Before advancing to the position of head sommelier at a restaurant or restaurant group, a certified sommelier typically begins his or her career as an apprentice under a more experienced sommelier. Sommeliers are frequently required to travel to vineyards all over the world, and many enter sommelier competitions that include written exams and blind tastings.

The majority of a certified sommelier’s services are often rendered in front of the restaurant’s patrons. After a diner has chosen a wine, the certified sommelier will present the bottle to the diner before uncorking to ensure that no errors have occurred. The wine is then opened, and if requested, the diners may be given the cork to smell before decanting. Wines are frequently decanted to remove any sediment and give the wine more air.