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How to Become a Professional Sommelier?

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Have you ever thought about quitting your regular job and following your dreams as a wine lover? Starting your wine career is not as simple as you may think, but there are some ways to do it. However, first, you have to make sure that becoming a wine expert, attending virtual wine tastings, and advising people on which wine to choose is something you really want.

If yes, then you have come to the right place. Below, you can find a complete guide on how to become a professional sommelier. You will read about what it means to be a sommelier, levels of sommelier certifications, what is a sommelier exam, and many more. Read on and find your perfect career.

Starting your wine career is not as simple as you may think, but there are some ways to do it. However, first, you have to make sure that becoming a wine expert, attending virtual wine tastings, and advising people on which wine to choose.Click To Tweet

What is a Sommelier?

The term ‘sommelier’ has been used to represent wine experts since the 18th century. The word ‘sommelier’ comes from French origin, and it means “one who serves from a basket.” Therefore, sommeliers, or wine stewards, are people who work in restaurants as the head of their wine cellar. They are the ones responsible for the wine stock, its storage, and selling and serving wine to the customers.

Levels of Sommelier Certifications

Sommelier certifications are the prestigious official titles that show your skills and level of wine knowledge. The highest level in the United States is Master Sommelier (MS), which requires at least three years of practical experience in a restaurant as a sommelier. You can also get the title of Certified Sommelier (CS) by passing an exam offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). There are three levels in this certification:

  • Certified Sommelier (CS);
  • Advanced Sommelier (AS);
  • Master Sommelier (MS).

To pass the exams, you will need to sit through a series of theoretical classes as well as take part in practical classes with an experienced Master Sommelier. To become a Master Sommelier, you have to complete a written exam, a blind tasting exam, and an oral exam. These written exams have three parts: theory, service, and tasting.

You will need to pass all three parts to pass the exams and become a Certified Sommelier. All these exams include elements such as memorizing information about grape varieties, winemaking techniques, food pairings, key points regarding wine production, and so on. After passing the first exams, you are eligible to become an Advanced or Master Sommelier.

Then you need to complete an exam that covers all aspects of wine service and knowledge, as well as a dinner held under certain conditions. After successfully completing all these exams and having several years of experience, you will receive the title of Master Sommelier.

How Much Does a Sommelier Make?

The average salary for a sommelier varies depending on where you live in the United States. With a median annual income of $53,000, sommeliers can earn more than $100,000 annually if they work at high-end restaurants or hotels.

According to the Wine Business Monthly magazine survey, sommeliers at high-end restaurants can earn between $60,000 and $150,000 annually. They also have benefits like health insurance and a retirement plan.

What Qualities Does a Sommelier Need?

A sommelier is someone who is passionate about wine tasting and wants to become a professional in this field. In addition, this person should also be able to communicate their knowledge about wine and food pairing with other people. Therefore, in order to become a sommelier, you need to possess some essential qualities such as:

  1. Strong interpersonal skills – When working as a sommelier, you will have to communicate with many people, ranging from your customers to your boss, so it’s important that you have strong interpersonal skills. These skills include being interested in others, being able to listen, being empathetic, and being able to make others around you feel comfortable.
  2. Detail-oriented – Being detail-oriented is yet another quality that makes a person an excellent sommelier. You won’t be able to accurately describe the wine if you aren’t detail-oriented because the details are what makes wine special.
  3. Obviously, a person who is passionate about wine will enjoy working as a sommelier much more than those who are only doing it for the money because this job can be very stressful if there are too many customers or if there are no customers at all. Therefore, it’s essential that you love wine and want to help others find the best one.
  4. Ability to memorize information – Becoming a sommelier requires being able to memorize information about grapes used in making wine as well as production techniques used in wineries all around the world. Only this way can you give accurate information when advising your customers which wines they should choose.


Becoming a sommelier requires a lot of hard work and patience, but it is definitely worth it. You will be able to work with different kinds of wines and help people select the perfect one for their meals. Also, you will learn about various styles of wine, regions they are produced in, and how to pair them with foods.

If becoming a sommelier is something you have always wanted to do, then go ahead – but prepare yourself. The process of learning will take much time and effort – although, in the end, you won’t regret it.

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