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Career: Sommelier

 
A Day in the life of a Sommelier

When customers in an upscale restaurant want to order a bottle of wine with dinner, they may be overwhelmed by or unfamiliar with the selections offered on the wine list. When this is the case, they can ask the sommelier for advice. Sommelier is the French term for cellarmaster or wine steward. Sommeliers are individuals with a love of wine who are eager to impart some of their knowledge to the customer. They can describe the regions, grapes, vineyards and vintages of an assortment of wines. The best sommeliers talk to, not at, their customers and enjoy when customers tell them of a bottle they have recently tasted that they are not familiar with. The sommelier either helps to create the wine list or compiles it on his own. The sommelier recommends wines that suit the customer’s tastes and price range. Even those who are knowledgeable about wine can benefit from the sommelier’s advice. He has tasted the items on the wine list and knows which wines go best with which entrees. Many patrons are easily intimidated by wines and do not understand the terminology used to describe them. The sommelier must be ready to coax from them a description of their desires and be understanding of their budgetary limits. When they select a wine, the sommelier brings it to the table with the appropriate glasses and pours it for the customer to taste. The sommelier should encourage the patron to smell the wine first and should describe its components to him, bringing the wine to life for the patron before it even touches his palate. Sommeliers also decant wines, when necessary. Decanting, usually done to red wines aged over ten years, is the process of pouring the wine into a decanter before serving it. This is done to allow the wine to breathe and to separate it from any sediment that may have settled at the bottom of the bottle. Extensive and frequent travel is part of the sommelier’s career. Many travel yearly to different regions to choose wines for their restaurant. At times, they will leave a promising wine behind, but return to it repeatedly until they feel it has aged properly.

Paying Your Dues

When customers in an upscale restaurant want to order a bottle of wine with dinner, they may be overwhelmed by or unfamiliar with the selections offered on the wine list. When this is the case, they can ask the sommelier for advice. Sommelier is the French term for cellarmaster or wine steward. Sommeliers are individuals with a love of wine who are eager to impart some of their knowledge to the customer. They can describe the regions, grapes, vineyards and vintages of an assortment of wines. The best sommeliers talk to, not at, their customers and enjoy when customers tell them of a bottle they have recently tasted that they are not familiar with. The sommelier either helps to create the wine list or compiles it on his own. The sommelier recommends wines that suit the customer’s tastes and price range. Even those who are knowledgeable about wine can benefit from the sommelier’s advice. He has tasted the items on the wine list and knows which wines go best with which entrees. Many patrons are easily intimidated by wines and do not understand the terminology used to describe them. The sommelier must be ready to coax from them a description of their desires and be understanding of their budgetary limits. When they select a wine, the sommelier brings it to the table with the appropriate glasses and pours it for the customer to taste. The sommelier should encourage the patron to smell the wine first and should describe its components to him, bringing the wine to life for the patron before it even touches his palate. Sommeliers also decant wines, when necessary. Decanting, usually done to red wines aged over ten years, is the process of pouring the wine into a decanter before serving it. This is done to allow the wine to breathe and to separate it from any sediment that may have settled at the bottom of the bottle. Extensive and frequent travel is part of the sommelier’s career. Many travel yearly to different regions to choose wines for their restaurant. At times, they will leave a promising wine behind, but return to it repeatedly until they feel it has aged properly.

Associated Careers

The field of wine is vast, but more traditional and family-oriented than one might expect. Vineyard owners are responsible for tending to the grape harvest and wine making. They employ large numbers of people to do this. Wine production is predominantly a closed area as there are a limited number of good grape-growing regions and families tend to pass the vineyard down through bloodlines. Those who are knowledgeable about wine may consider hosting tasting dinners or teaching wine-tasting classes. Still others may write about their experiences for industry publications, such as Food & Wine Magazine.


 
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