So, How Do You Become a Sommelier Anyway?

So, you want to get paid to drink wine? Here’s a rough outline of what it takes to get into one of the most coveted, competitive professions in the culinary arts world (and just world, generally), in addition to a few tips and tricks to help you along the way. You got this (if you want to get this).

Taste It!

How much do you enjoy wine? If your answer is “A LOT!” then you’ll likely be more interested in becoming a sommelier than somebody whose answer is “a little!” Ordering a case of wine a week might be a bit excessive (though I suppose it depends on how passionate you are!), but consider subscribing to a wine delivery service, like Winc or, The Sip. Also, consider any wine bars or shops (support local businesses!) near you that would be happy to have your support right now. Besides, making connections there could lead to valuable resources down the line.

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Aside from tasting, looking and, more importantly, smelling, are essential acts that will need to be finely-tuned for your wine ventures. When it comes to the latter, know that judging a wine is largely affected by aromas. Per Wine Folly, there are three types of aromas: primary aromas, which are typically derived from grapes; secondary aromas, which come from the winemaking process; and tertiary aromas, which inform you of how the wine has been aged (i.e., in an oak barrel).

INSIDER TIPYouTube really is an invaluable resource.

 

Get to Know It. Like, Really Know It

How do you become an official wine taster? How do you find the flavors, and the notes, and the notes between the flavors, and swish and swirl and spit and rinse and repeat? You really need to find a school near you. If you currently work in the restaurant industry, you already have a leg up. “There are tricks and tools of the trade that you’re only going to learn in the field, [work] under someone who knows what they’re doing and is invested in teaching you,” said Anna Friel, an advanced sommelier, in an interview with Food and Wine.

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But seriously, if you’re interested in receiving a sort of certification (and you should be if you’re planning on becoming an official sommelier), look into classes and/or wine tasting courses in your area. Actually, now with COVID affecting many walks of daily life, classes are more accessible than ever as they’re being offered in an online capacity. For beginners, Liquor.com recommends checking out Janis Robinson’s Udemy, and if you’re an industry professional looking to brush up on or further enhance your LinkedIn bio, consider something from the International Sommelier Guild.

The Business Side

Networking and staying in touch with members of the beverage industry (re: your above-mentioned local wine shop crew) is also imperative in furthering your career in wine. Do your research on industry professionals to reach out to, develop a strategy, and always be courteous and professional. If you go for drinks, don’t let two glasses turn into 10. In another timeline, I’d also advise you to travel and experience wines from vineyards around the world. For the foreseeable future, though, it’s best to stick to online orders. ­

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