These are the broad strokes of the path to become a sommelier.
Becoming a sommelier is a challenging and rewarding endeavor for the food and beverage professional. It is a natural progression for the server or bartender who desires new challenges, a different career path or upward mobility from their current position. Having an advanced knowledge of wine and spirits offers diverse career choices like running a wine program, working in a winery or in the sales & distribution side of the industry.
Theoretical knowledge is a necessary component for success in the world of wine and spirits, as it is for all hospitality professionals. A strong command of theory will give you the confidence to excel and set you apart from your competition for future employment opportunities.
Start with online resources, move through the popular industry websites and begin purchasing your book collection. You will use a blend of websites, texts and industry publications as regular reading material to broaden your knowledge. Great study habits, commitment and industry experience are necessary components to becoming a great sommelier.
Don't forget the appellation websites! Many D.O.'s, A.O.P.'s and D.O.C.G.'s have their own sites... and they are usually great!
The saying use to be that that we studied everything that people eat, drink and smoke around the world. With cigars in the restaurant environment almost extinct, the focus is moved to a wider gaze of the alcoholic beverage universe while still possessing a commanding knowledge of fine dining cuisine. The topics listed below should be examined for each wine and spirit produced around the globe.
Ask yourself the following questions when reading about wine regions throughout the world:
What are the major cities, towns and villages of the region?
What are the mountains, lakes & rivers in close proximity?
Are there any influential weather patterns?
Regulations or laws that govern delimited areas?
Old world wine regions are heavily regulated in comparison to their new world counterparts. Consider the following for those areas:
Grapes grown and styles of wine produced
Growing techniques, production methods & aging requirements
Alcohol levels, ripeness & in some cases acidity levels
Anything that regulates the way wine is produced and affects the taste of the final product
Producer knowledge is paramount to being a well rounded wine professional. The great names of each region should always be examined.
Who are the biggest names in the region?
What are the most expensive wines at auction?
What vineyards are associated with particular producers?
What are monopoles?
The ability to communicate your knowledge to anyone, at any level of understanding is important.
How do I explain it to a novice or a wine collector?
How can we sell this to the general public?
How can we better train our staff on this material?
The Institute of the Masters of Wine and the Court of Master Sommeliers are the premier testing organizations of the beverage world. Accreditation from these organizations provide your future employers assurance that you are professionally trained.
The Court of Master Sommeliers is the premier international organization for the professional sommelier.
ADVANCED PRINCIPLES FOR THE PROFESSIONAL SOMMELIER
The topics below are the basic elements of running your own wine program. They can also be found in the business of wine section of CMS examinations.