There is no question that any wine waiter or waitress can recommend a wine for diners to enjoy. Yet, for those who truly enjoy pairing wines with different foods and are looking for a career doing so there is a job for you. In fine dining restaurants around the country there has been a push to bring in Sommeliers to help patrons pair the perfect wines, beers, spirits, and tobaccos to complement their food choices. While finding an experienced Sommelier in big cities is not too difficult, smaller cities often have a harder time finding qualified Sommeliers. This presents an excellent opportunity for those eager to learn the process to find work across the country.
To qualify as a Sommelier does not necessarily require any formal education nor a certification. As with many professions, having a degree or certification may be a job requirement for an employer or necessary for higher level positions. Earning an Associate's or Bachelor's degrees in the Culinary Arts and even Restaurant or Hospitality Management are good courses when working towards a career as a Sommelier. In place of or in addition to a formal degree from an accredited college would be a Sommelier Certification program. Sommelier Certification courses are offered by such organizations such as North American Sommelier Association, National Wine School and International Wine & Spirits Guild.
A basic certification can typically be completed within a few days by completing a short course and an examination. Certification courses may only take a few days but this is enough to earn a beginners certification. Courses will vary in length and cost. You can expect Sommelier Certification courses to cost $500 and up depending on the courses you choose. To earn a Master Sommelier Certification you should expect to invest many years learning and understanding the trade with the guidance of existing Master Sommeliers and earning more advanced certifications along the way.
As a Sommelier you can improve upon your skills by practicing serving and pouring wine. Read wine, spirits and other culinary magazines to stay on top of the trends within the industry. You will want to understand proper dining etiquette and present yourself in a professional manner. Be well groomed and have strong interpersonal communication skills as you will be dealing with all levels of wine experts when serving a table. Look for networking opportunities to meet and talk with other Sommeliers. There are online communities such as Guildsomm where wine professionals can discuss a variety of topics with other individuals in the business.
A Wine Sommeliers salary may be made up from multiple sources including a base salary, bonuses, profit sharing and commissions. Sommelier salaries can be anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 per year. With more experience, a Master Sommelier can see annual earnings in the $70,000 range. Now invite some friends over and get to work practicing your wine serving skills.