In Vino Veritas: Extraordinary Sommelier Profession

In the world there are 70 thousand types of work, and every day this indicator is growing. The development of civilization and technology contributes to the expansion of the labor market. No one will be surprised at the position of a seller or a cashier, and on the Internet you can easily find many cover letter for warehouse associate samples, but such professions as ramming passengers in the subway or professional mourners are surprising for most people. Some professions in some countries may be typical and widespread, while in other countries the situation is opposite. In this article we will talk about one of such unusual professions.

Nowadays a sommelier is a restaurant employee, a specialist in the acquisition, storage and serving of wine to the table. He draws up a restaurant’s wine list, is engaged in wine tasting, and gives recommendations on the choice of drinks to restaurant visitors. The sommelier knows how to cool or warm the wine before drinking correctly, how to open it correctly and gracefully, how and in what glass to pour. At the request of the client, he can also serve drinks at the table.

Essential sommelier skills:

1. Expert knowledge:

  • about the wine producer,
  • the intricacies of the technological process for the production of a particular wine,
  • about varieties of wines,
  • about the features of its storage,

2. the ability to determine the quality of wine, grape variety, region of origin of wine, its age according to the aroma of the drink,

3. the competence to lay out the aromas of wine into components and interpret the resulting bouquets,

4. the capability to combine wine with food and other drinks,

5. noteworthy portfolio – the skills and experience that a true professional can boast of. A person with extensive experience and writer skills will be able to compose a cover letter himself, for the rest there is convenient help: This includes a well-written resume, referrals and guarantors from previous jobs.

a sommelier tests wine

History of the profession

 The etymology of the word sommelier is very interesting. It comes from the French Old Provence term sommelier, which means “teamster of pack animal”. The first sommeliers monitored the safety of all the personal belongings of their masters along the way. Sometimes there were separate specialties – sommelier for weapons, sommelier for provisions, etc.

Later, the sommelier began to monitor the economy not only on the way, but also to manage it on the estates, some of them were obliged to check the safety of dishes and drinks served at the table: so, the profession was very risky at that time.

Over time, the sommelier gained a narrower specialization: cuisine and wine cellars. Since the beginning of the 14th century, the sommelier has been following the selection of wines, food quality, proper storage, and table setting.

At the court of King Louis IV of France was the official position of a sommelier – a man who kept an eye on royal baggage during transfers. In France in the Middle Ages there existed the concept of “échanson” – butler. These people were in service at the court of the king and the nobility.

Échanson wineries were divided into two specialties:

  • bouteillers – managers of the wine cellar, royal vineyards, responsible for the purchase of wines
  • tonneliers – servants who watched the barrels

The chief butler of France had the title of “Grand Echanson de France”. The sommelier position was formed and established as an independent and having similar responsibilities in different countries of Europe only in the 19th century.

In 1969 in France the International Sommelier Association (abbreviation for ASI) was created. It prepares and holds international congresses, competitions. Under its leadership other national associations have appeared in different countries. Due to to its active position, the profession of a sommelier has become famous and fashionable throughout the world. No respectable restaurant in our time can fulfill its mission properly without a sommelier as part of the staff.

The Sommelier Union of France confers the title of “Maître Sommelier” to those who have worked for more than 10 years in this position. The winners of international sommelier championships are only those who have at least 15-20 years of work experience in this postition.

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