Does the thought of learning all you can about fine wines and tasting all of the different varieties sound like your ideal job? If so, then you may want to consider turning your passion into a career by becoming a sommelier. This enjoyable position, which consists of managing the wine in a restaurant, can be a rewarding and enjoyable responsibility, but it also comes with some challenges, too.
There is a lot of training and skill involved in understanding all of the complexities of different types of wines and knowing how to pair them with the right food choices. And while in the past many sommeliers were self-taught, today the nature of the business is such that in addition to learning on the job, reading books on the history of wine and attending numerous tastings, many professionals are also seeking more formal education to round out their expertise. In fact, the most sought-after credential available in this field is to become a Master Sommelier (indicated as an MS after a sommelier’s name). But keep in mind that this is not an easy task. In fact, only three percent of all people who go through the actually pass the required test to earn this desirable status.
An Evolving Field
Just a decade ago, a sommelier was typically an older man in formal dress who recommended wines and served them to patrons at upscale restaurants, but today the field has broadened out to include younger people of both sexes who work at an eclectic mix of eating establishments. As the business grows to include more applicants, the requirements are also becoming more stringent. Part of the reason for the change, in addition to the increasing competitiveness, is the fact that wine has become more of a mainstream part of modern culture and as a result, the position has taken on a new importance. In addition to suggesting what wine selection would pair best with food, modern sommeliers also develop wine lists for their restaurants, stock them, track inventory and add new vintages on a regular basis. In addition, they often provide restaurant staff with some basic wine education.
A typical day in the life of a sommelier consists of working long hours, often including nights, weekends and holidays. In addition, if you decide to pursue this career, either by training yourself or earning a certificate in the field, you must expect to devote a significant amount of time outside of the restaurant to reading, keeping up on the latest wine selections and honing your management, hospitality and organizational skills in order to be a success.