If you have a love of wine and people you may need to ask yourself how to become a sommelier. Most people don’t even know what the word sommelier means let alone how you become one, but if you are familiar with the word then you are more than likely familiar with wine.
A sommelier is in the simplest terms a steward of wine. As a sommelier your responsibilities will be that of a matchmaker on many different levels. On one level you will match the wine to the customer, on another level you will match the wine with the chief’s specials, and on yet another level you will match the wines that need to be stocked in the cellar of the restaurant. As you can see being a sommelier is much more than simply pouring a glass of wine, though you have to know how to do that too.
If this all sounds interesting to you then here are the steps to follow to become a sommelier:
Educate yourself: Becoming a sommelier is more than just throwing on a white coat and claiming yourself to be one. Many fine dining establishments that have the need for a sommelier will want to know that you have taken the appropriate steps to becoming a sommelier. While there is no set plan to do this, there are exams that can certify you as an expert on the subject of wine. In order to pass these exams, you will have to know a great deal about wine and being self-educated is a great place to start. This type of education can be achieved by attending wine tastings, joining wine tasting clubs, and working in a restaurant that caters to fancy wines.
Get formal education: There are a growing number of schools and community colleges that offer courses in the subject of wines, especially in wine country. These courses can range in time from a few days to a few months and some hold more merit and clout than others. The Culinary Institute of America, for example, offers a certification program for wine professionals in California’s Napa Valley. Once someone goes through the studies and passes the exams associated with this course they can add the initials C.W.P., which stands for Certified Wine Professional, to their name. There are other such programs around the country and finding a reputable one is a great step when you are considering your sommelier career.
Become an assistant: Many great sommeliers get their start by assisting or apprenticing behind a more experienced sommelier. Once you have some education under your belt, and perhaps some initials behind your name, you can seek out a restaurant that is looking for a sommelier’s assistant. When you get hired as such take the opportunity to learn all that you can so that when the time comes for you to leave the nest and fly on your own you will be more than ready to do so.
While being a sommelier is definitely not for everyone, if you love wine and you love people and you love to bring the two together, then becoming a professional sommelier is definitely right up you’re alley.
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