Wine sommelier

A wine sommelier


Wine sommeliers have general knowledge about wine, its production, service and wind with food pairing. They make use of this knowledge for the management of specialised wine cellars, publish wine lists and books or work in restaurants.

The duties of a sommelier include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating and updating wine lists with the chefs and manager.
  • Making recommendations on food and wine pairings.
  • Ensuring that the wine cellar is fully stocked.
  • Informing guests on the variety of wines available.
  • Training wait staff on available wines.
  • Negotiating prices with vendors.
  • Organizing wine tasting events.
  • Complying with health and safety regulations.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to wine sommelier:

wine selection advisor
wine advisor
wine steward
wine choice consultant

Working conditions

Sommeliers work in restaurants, hotels, and private clubs, where they are responsible for selecting and purchasing wine, as well as storing and serving it. They may also be responsible for developing wine lists and training staff in wine service.

Sommeliers typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, when restaurants are busiest. They may also travel to wine-producing regions to meet with winemakers and learn about new wines. Some sommeliers work in wine shops, where they advise customers on wine selections and help with wine tastings. Others work for wine distributors, where they sell wine to restaurants and retailers. Some sommeliers also teach wine appreciation classes or write about wine for magazines or websites.

Minimum qualifications

No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a wine sommelier. However, many sommeliers do hold an associate’s degree in culinary arts, winemaking or hospitality. Some employers look for candidates who hold a professional certificate awarded by institutions such as the Worldwide Sommelier Association, the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, or the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Sommeliers undergo extensive training in the hospitality industry. They often start as waiters and work their way up to the position of sommelier. They may also work in the hospitality industry in other roles, such as bartending or management, before becoming a sommelier.

Sommeliers can also receive on-the-job training in the form of an apprenticeship. During an apprenticeship, a sommelier will work closely with a senior sommelier to learn about the hospitality industry. They will also learn about the different wines and spirits and how to pair them with food.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Wine sommelier is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Wine sommelier career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to wine sommelier.

coffee taster
wine fermenter
beer sommelier
bulk filler
cigar inspector

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of wine sommelier. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of wine sommelier with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

green coffee buyer
green coffee coordinator
malt house supervisor
food production planner
animal feed supervisor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of wine sommelier.

  • Types of wine: The large variety of wines, including the different types, regions and special characteristics of each. The process behind the wine such as grape varietals, fermentation procedures and the types of crop that resulted in the final product.
  • Fermentation processes of beverages: Fermentation processes related to the conversion of sugar to alcohol, gases and acids. 

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of wine sommelier.

  • Taste wines: Taste wines to have a sensory examination and evaluation of wine, and to check wine appearance and evaluate characteristics such as the in glass aroma, the in mouth sensations and the aftertaste.
  • Describe flavour of different wines: Describe taste and aroma, also known as flavour, of different wines using the adequate lingo and relying on experience to classify the wines.
  • Give advice on the matching of food with wine: Give advice on the matching of food with wine, the different types of wines, the production processes, about the character of the wine, harvest, type of grape and other related advice.
  • Apply extensive study of wine types from around the world: Study wine types from around the world and advise companies and people in the industry. Analyse the types of wine being sold in different countries.
  • Store wine properly: Proper way to store various types of wines.
  • Apply HACCP: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).
  • Analyse trends in the food and beverage industries: Investigate trends in foodstuffs related to consumers preferences. Examine key markets based on both product type and geography as well as technological improvements in the industry.
  • Host wine-tasting events: Hosting and attending wine-tasting events in order to share information relating the last trends in the industry, for network purposes and self updating.
  • Ensure adequate conditions in wine cellars: Care for important factors in wine cellars such as temperature and humidity that must be maintained by a climate control system. Protect wine cellars from temperature swings by deciding on underground built wine cellars.
  • Decant wines: Identify when wine should be decanted. Decant the bottles in presence of guests in a professional and safe way. Decanting especially benefits red wines. Pour wine from one container into another, typically in order to separate out sediment.
  • Maintain updated professional knowledge: Regularly attend educational workshops, read professional publications, actively participate in professional societies.
  • Apply requirements concerning manufacturing of food and beverages: Apply and follow national, international, and internal requirements quoted in standards, regulations and other specifications related with manufacturing of food and beverages.
  • Apply GMP: Apply regulations regarding manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
  • Stay abreast of wine trends: Stay abreast of the latest trends in wine and possibly other spirits such as biological wines and sustainable cultures.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of wine sommelier. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Chemical constitution of grapes: The chemical components of grapes such as water, carbohydrates, acids, alcohols, phenolics, nitrogenous compounds, inorganic substances; the chemical interactions of these elements and how it can give a different personality to the final product, especially during the fermentation process.
  • Wine fermentation process: Process of fermentation of wine, which involves the different steps to be followed, the time lapses in the process and the parameters of the product.
  • Variety of grapes: Varieties of grapes and the types of wine that can be produced with them. Specifications during fermentation and the treatment of the juice during the process.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of wine sommelier. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Maintain relationship with customers: Build a lasting and meaningful relationship with customers in order to ensure satisfaction and fidelity by providing accurate and friendly advice and support, by delivering quality products and services and by supplying after-sales information and service.
  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Perform sensory evaluation: Evaluate the quality of a given type of food or beverage based on its appearance, smell, taste, aroma, and others. Suggest possible improvements and comparisons with other products.
  • Perform public relations: Perform public relations (PR) by managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation and the public.
  • Maintain food specifications: Preserve, review, and evaluate existing food specifications such as recipes.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Liaise with colleagues: Liaise with fellow colleagues to ensure common understanding on work related affairs and agree on the necessary compromises the parties might need to face. Negotiate compromises between parties as to ensure that work in general run efficiently towards the achievement of the objectives.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Liaise with managers: Liaise with managers of other departments ensuring effective service and communication, i.e. sales, planning, purchasing, trading, distribution and technical.

ISCO group and title

5131 – Waiters

  1. Wine sommelier – ESCO
  2. Sommelier Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Sommelier Job Description – Betterteam
  4. Sommelier Job Description – Indeed
  5. Featured image: By Javier Campo Gonzalez – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on November 9, 2022

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