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Love Wine? Maybe a Career as a Sommelier is for you in 2018

 Rudi Eilers, Director of Education with students from the Sommelier Certificate Course

Rudi Eilers, Director of Education with students from the Sommelier Certificate Course

It’s a new year, and with the new year comes new ideas, fresh starts, and inspiration. Perhaps you are thinking about going in a different direction and turning your love of wine into a career. If so, we at the Sommelier Society of America are ready to help. As you will see, certification as a sommelier can take you down many interesting and diverse career paths.

Hospitality:

The food industry holds a lot of opportunities for a sommelier, and not just in high-end restaurants. Hotels, wine bars, tasting rooms, private clubs, and even casinos employ sommeliers.

A sommelier’s duties include much more than creating a wine list. In addition to choosing an appropriate selection of wines for the venue, which typically means working directly with the chef to select wines that complement the menu, a sommelier oversees much more. You must also make sure the rest of the staff has a basic knowledge of wines, physically manage inventory, place orders, and do continuing education. This often includes visiting vineyards. 

A sommelier’s main duty in hospitality is creating a complete dining experience for patrons.  You should be comfortable visiting diners on the floor and suggesting wines which are appropriate to both their meals and their personal taste. Communicating in a comfortable, personable manner is essential, as is being able to explain wines without using industry jargon.

Retail:

Far from the glitz and glamour of expensive restaurants, many sommeliers are now choosing to work in a retail setting. Retail offers sommeliers a mo­re relaxed, and often more personal, environment. Instead of spending your evenings bouncing from table to table, you can spend more time with customers and get to know their individual wants and needs.

In a wine shop, sommeliers have a variety of opportunities to put their wine knowledge to use. In addition to working with customers to find that ideal bottle, you can host classes, schedule tastings, and even rent out the space for private parties. Working in retail wine allows you to have more contact with a greater variety of people than you would within the confines of a 15-table restaurant. For many sommeliers, the opportunity for one-on-one contact with other wine lovers is a dream come true.

Education:

Simply put, only a sommelier can educate another sommelier. Colleges and culinary programs offer sommelier courses and hire other sommeliers to teach them. In addition, sommeliers are hired by a variety of venues to teach certification courses, recreational classes and seminars, host tastings, and work private events.

In any educational setting, you will be speaking to participants with varied levels of knowledge and experience, and will cover topics such as styles of wine, choosing glassware, developing your sense of taste, and pairing wine and food.

Writer:

In today’s digital world, there are plenty of opportunities for sommeliers to share their knowledge online. If you prefer to be out of the limelight and enjoy a quieter environment, you may choose a virtual career. Newspapers, magazines, and blogs all hire sommeliers to write columns or articles about wine.

Wine writers typically spend a lot of time traveling to different locations and sampling a variety of wines, as well as sitting at the computer writing about their discoveries. Many hours are spent researching new regions, styles, markets, and brands. Additionally, as a wine writer you need to be more than an excellent sommelier: you also need to be a master of the English language. Because of this, a background in journalism or communications is usually recommended. 

There are many career paths a sommelier can take, and they all start with the proper education and certification. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a sommelier, send us an email at info@sommeliersocietyofamerica.org. Our 21 Week Sommelier Certificate Course provides comprehensive and intensive study of oenology and the significant wine regions of the world. We would be happy to talk with you about some of the careers that our students have explored.