I hope you are all experiencing a delightful start to the fall. The seasons are starting to change, which causes me to reflect back on my life and realize how grateful I am to have a job that I truly love. I don’t ever feel like I am going to work.
I am the type of person who would be bored out of their mind sitting at the same desk day after day and week after week. Every day all the same. Not for me. Not this guy. This caused me to begin thinking about various types of jobs in the wine industry that are not only different, but pay well and are enjoyable. I know realistically many of you out there have these types of desk jobs (and I thank you for having the patience and drive to complete these jobs every day), and I know you may not always enjoy it.
This blog will explore the career of a sommelier. Doesn’t becoming a wine expert sound like an amazing job? And there is more to it than many realize. A sommelier has to be an expert with taste and pairings, on every single type of wine available. They also have to know about beer, hard liquor, food, and cigars. Sommeliers need to know the history of wine making, know wine flaws by taste, and be able to identify wine vintages, as specific to region of grape, by taste. It really is a lot to learn! But you will have fun doing it.
Now the first thing you need to do to become a sommelier is to have a supreme love of wine, food, and taste. You need to be in tune with all of your senses. Smell, sight, taste, and even sound are all vital to wine tasting and work as a sommelier. You need to love the service industry. Even the downsides of it. Sommeliers will typically work at a hotel or a restaurant so interacting with people politely, no matter how impolite they may be, is important. You need to have the drive to finish coursework, a love of learning, a humble attitude (because no matter how much wine you have had in your life, you’re not yet an expert), and you must work well with others. So if you don’t work well with others, a desk job may work well for you.
Most sommeliers must complete a certain level of training through a combination of formal education, coursework, professional experience, and tests. Some may receive a certification through experience alone.
In America, the Court Master of Sommeliers was established in 1977 to serve as a board of standards for American sommeliers as well as providing classes and coursework to produce quality master sommeliers. Their requirements for certification as a master sommelier requires taking the following courses, in order, and passing the required exams
- Introductory Sommelier Course- An intensive two day course giving the fundamental basics of wine and spirits, proper wine service, and blind taste testing.
- Certified Sommelier Examination- This is a course for those who seek excellence in service but may not want to be a designated sommelier or beverage director. This course focuses on exemplary service.
- Advanced Sommelier Course- An extremely difficult course and examination. It is recommended that each participant have at least five years of experience in beverage service and each will be highly reviewed by the Court Masters of Sommeliers.
- Master Sommelier Diploma-Must have already passed the advanced exam. A 3-part examine that will explore all levels of sommelier experience to the highest level. This is the highest level of sommelier certification.
Anyone can sign up for these courses and exams. Courses are offered throughout the United States and throughout the year. There are other schools for sommelier courses but this school, The Court Masters of Sommeliers, work with the other Court Masters Sommelier organizations around the world to set standards for wine and beverage service. These courses will not be easy to pass and will truly take a person who is dedicated to the art of wine, wine tasting, wine serving, beverage service, and hospitality.
If any of that sounds like you, and you found the above courses of interest, I urge you to follow your dream. Sommeliers are being hired at higher rates than ever and there is a large range of restaurants, hotel, wineries, golf clubs, and other high end service venues that need these services. I also mentioned that the pay is good. The average starting salary for a sommelier is $46,000. Master sommeliers can make anywhere up to $70,000 a year. This will be a unique job that you love going to everyday.