How to be a Sommelier: step and step and how to get there
Whether by will or professional motivations, you have decided to become a sommelier. Or wants to know better what he does. How to become a sommelier? How important is this professional in the world of wine? What are the steps to becoming a professional sommelier? Let's get all the doubts out now.
What is Sommelier?
The Michaelis Dictionary defines "An individual specialized in alcoholic beverages, mainly wines, and who, in a restaurant, besides taking care of the purchase, storage and elaboration of the wine list, is responsible for indicating the drink that best matches the dish chosen by the customer. "
Sounds simple, right?
In practice it is not so simple. Sommelier is a profession and not a certification or qualification. However, the Sommelier must obtain a high level of knowledge so that he can perform his duties.
The Sommelier is practically an encyclopedia of alcoholic beverages, mainly wines, and sometimes also of cigars and even tea and coffee.
Many people ask the following questions:
- Do you have to study?
- Do you have to go to college?
- Do you have to travel?
- Do you have to drink lots of wine?
- Do you have to work in the industry?
The answer is yes, but it is also not
It all depends on your effort and dedication, and for what purposes you want to acquire the knowledge necessary to become a Sommelier. Again, Sommelier is a profession and not a qualification.
There are those who say that Sommelier is the only person who works in a restaurant, and from the moment you do not work in restaurants, you are not a sommelier. You're just a wine expert. This statement commonly raises hot debates on the subject.
Controversial aside, the truth is one - it is not easy to become a Sommelier or a wine expert.
You do not get the knowledge and experience you need overnight. Big names in the industry spend years studying and getting refreshed because of the ever-changing industry. A book published today may be outdated tomorrow - like any profession in the age of digital communication.
But come on, you've decided you want to become a Sommelier, now what?
How to become a Sommelier?
There are several paths that a person can follow to to Become a Sommelier. Obtaining a certification is usually the most sought after by industry professionals.
But the first question you must answer is if you really need a certification. And that depends a lot on you and what your needs are.
Whether you work in the industry or not. For example: wine distributor, wine store, hotels, restaurants, etc.
If the answer is yes, your company is likely to require certification, proving that you have gained the knowledge and experience you need to do your job, just like any other profession.
But if you do not work in the industry and are passionate about wines, getting a certification may not be the right path.
In the world of wine there are people with an extraordinary knowledge about the drink, who are talented tasters, but which have no certification whatsoever. And yet they are no longer good professionals.
In other cases, many people who are passionate about wines seek certification for personal reasons.
Sometimes the lack of knowledge can keep you from trying new things, so the person sees the possibility of acquiring theoretical knowledge as a way to open the mind to new paths - which can be very cool!
What certification should I get?
If you decide to get a certification, the question is, which certification should I get? The paths are many.
What all organizations and institutes have in common is the level of theoretical knowledge that each offers. Some also offer knowledge in tasting, and how to analyze wines in a technical and professional way.
Some certifications also offer knowledge and exposure to the wine service. With this knowledge, you will learn how to serve wines professionally, as well as learning how to make suggestions to the customer, based on the data he gives him about his preferences.
And some certifications, you will learn how to manage a wine list from a restaurant. And it also differentiates one certification from the other, because some are more service-focused than others.
So to try to answer the question of which certification you should get, you need to ask the question of what the need for your certification is. Do you work in the industry? Are you passionate about wine and want to gain theoretical knowledge and taste? Are you a journalist and want to write about wines?
The answer to this question is key to defining what kind of certification you should seek. We'll help you by reviewing some of them below.
Popular wine certifications
Nowadays there are several renowned organizations that offer different levels of certifications. Let's see the main ones.
ABS (Brazilian Association of Sommelies)
ABS Brazilian Association, affiliated with ASI (Association of the Sommellerie Internationale) ABS offers different courses and exams for training Sommeliers in wines, beers, sake and bartender courses. Rio de Janeiro - abs-rio.com.br - Sao Paulo - abs-sp.com
WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust)
British organization that offers courses and exams on wines, spirits and sake at different levels. With partnerships and specialized schools worldwide, it is possible to acquire WSET certification in Portuguese. In Brazil, The Wine School Brasil - thewineschool.com.br and the Enocultura - www.enocultura.com.br different levels of WSET.
WSG (Wine Scholar Guild - formerly French Wine Society)
The study and certification programs offer students specialties in the regions and wineries of a specific country. Currently focusing only on France, Italy and Spain. They offer courses online and in the classroom, online courses are in English only. Currently in Brazil only The Wine School Brazil offers the program in Portuguese focusing on France. http://thewineschool.com.br/category/products/products
ISG (International Sommelier Guild)
American organization that offers different levels of certification in wines, beers and distilled beverages. Offering online and classroom courses. Currently in Brazil only Somm School is licensed in the whole country to teach ISG courses offered at intermediate and advanced levels. https://www.sommelierschool.com.br
SWE (Society of Wine Educators)
American organization that offers different levels of certification in wines and distilled beverages. SWE does not offer a specific course. When you sign up to take the certification exam, they offer a study guide from where the exam is based. Candidates have one year from the date of registration to take the exam. In Brazil the exam can be done in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba. Unfortunately the guide and exam are not offered in English. You can find the exam sites in the following link - https://wsr.pearsonvue.com/testtaker/registration/SelectTestCenterProximity/SOCIETYOFWINEED/6313623
More about the program and exam: http://www.societyofwineeducators.org/index.php/certified-specialist-of-wine.
CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers)
Organization based in the United Kingdom, now with different locations in Europe and the Americas. Offering certification exams for Sommeliers at different levels, CMS does not offer specific courses in preparation for the exams. Composed of four levels, Introductory, Certificate, Advanced Certificate and Master Sommelier. Candidates prepare for years before taking the final exam for Master Sommelier. They offer a guide and study program, with tips from books, magazines and websites, but it is the candidate's responsibility to study and prepare for the exam. There are currently only 229 Master Sommeliers worldwide. Last year they offered the introductory and certified exam in Brazil. Unfortunately it is not offered in Portuguese. Tip: If you would like to learn more about this exam, Somm documentary, available on Netflix.
MW (Master of Wine)
British organization that offers qualification and certification for Sommeliers. Considered the most prestigious title in the industry. The Institute offers a self-study study program, which aims to assist in the preparation for the MW exam. The candidate will have many opportunities to meet his colleagues at residential seminars and course days, as well as Masters of Wine and industry leaders. The Institute actively encourages the formation of study groups among students so that they can support and learn from each other. The candidate will also be assigned a MW as his personal mentor to help him along the way.
Difference between MS (Court of Master Sommelier) and MW (Master of Wine)
The Master of Wine program is designed to measure knowledge in a more academic way than the Court of Master Sommelier. The Master of Wine program is popular with wine merchants, writers, winemakers and other members of the trade.
It is not focused on the management and service of the beverage department, nor does the curriculum include distilled beverages or beer in the same way as the CMS. The CMS approach is more practical, while the Master of Wine program is more theoretical.
If you decide that getting a certification is definitely not for you because you just want to taste this wonderful drink, the Internet is a wonderful thing. It gives us insight into various areas, and works the same way with wine learning.
The trick is to select a reliable source that will informally and responsibly report. Here in the Come Grape, you can check tips and learn daily with our employees.
Regardless of the way you decide to learn about wines, remember, drink responsibly, and enjoy this fantastic journey that is to unravel the wine world.
For those who like books, see the list of 9 books about Wine that we indicate.