The world of wine revolves around numerous professions, from the wine grower who produces the grapes, to the oenologist, who makes the wine. Among all the professionals who work with the vine, the sommelier is one of those who enhance the wine and advise amateurs. Discover the profession of sommelier .
The missions and responsibilities of sommeliers
Whether he works in a cellar or in a gourmet restaurant, the sommelier is entrusted with different missions, which can vary depending on his experience (head sommelier, assistant sommelier, etc.).
A consulting mission
The first responsibility of the sommelier is to put his experience and expertise at the service of the customer, by providing informed advice on choosing a good bottle of wine . In gourmet restaurants, the sommelier intervenes once the waiter has taken the order of the dishes. Its role will then be to propose the best food and wine pairing to enhance the meal while respecting the customer's tastes.
The sommeliers work in close collaboration with the chef to develop a wine list adapted to each dish. The idea is then to introduce new wines, by offering very classic pairings, but also by getting off the beaten track, with more unexpected pairings.
The sommelier is generally part of a team of professionals, and works alongside the waiters, cooks, bartender, etc. His role is to ensure order taking and serving of wines , throughout the meals and the service. He must then master the techniques of serving wine, but also of opening and storing bottles.
Typically, sommeliers are also in charge of managing the establishment's wine cellar . It is up to him to select the best bottles of wine, to ensure a great diversity of vintages, to guarantee restocking and to manage the quality of conservation and storage.
The qualities and skills of the sommelier
To be able to practice the profession of sommelier, the professional must have both professional skills and qualities .
- Have a sense of service;
- Have an excellent knowledge of wines , grape varieties, wine regions, etc.;
- Demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills;
- To be rigorous ;
- Have a very developed sense of taste and smell;
- Demonstrate curiosity and open-mindedness, to discover new wines and adapt to the customer's tastes;
- Have a sense of advice and be an educator;
- Know how to manage cellar stocks;
- Have a very good memory, to always have the wine list in mind;
- Practice several foreign languages.
How to become a sommelier?
There are several courses to become a sommelier . Thus, after more general training in the hotel and catering industry (CAP restaurant, professional baccalaureate in marketing and catering services, STHR techno baccalaureate, etc.), it is possible to specialize with training in sommelier:
- CAP level, the complementary sommelier specialty ;
- Baccalaureate level, the BP sommelier (professional certificate);
- Bac +2 level, BTS management in hotel and catering , with the option “management of a catering unit”.
In which establishments does the sommelier work?
Most sommeliers work in large restaurants , in wine cellars , in some large hotels with wine bars . More rarely, this professional expert in wine choice can also be recruited in a supermarket. Indeed, calling on a sommelier allows you to benefit from valuable advice to stock the wine department and increase turnover.
The sommelier can then consider career development. If he starts at the bottom of the ladder, as a commis sommelier, he can then become a sommelier, then head sommelier . Otherwise, he can join increasingly prestigious establishments.
To support his expertise, the sommelier can participate in sommelier competitions . The winners then benefit from a title that is highly appreciated and sought after by employers, because such a competition requires in-depth knowledge of tasting and vineyards.
Note that women are increasingly standing out in this previously very male-dominated field, and two young women recently won the competition for “Best young sommelier in France” and “Best sommelier in France”.
The sommelier is a wine lover who knows how to highlight and sublimate it. His advice is invaluable for ensuring a perfect food and wine pairing, and for savoring a good wine at its true value .