All About Sommeliers
Have you ever felt intimidated by the responsibility of ordering wine from an extensive wine list at a very nice restaurant? You’re not alone, most people are not well-educated about fine wine and have no idea what is the right wine for a particular occasion, and how it will match with the food being ordered. But do not despair, you have an ally: the sommelier.
Most fine restaurants employ a specially trained professional who not only knows a lot about wine, but he or she also probably assembled the wine list and has made sure it includes wines suitable for all tastes, occasions, budgets, and foods. So who is this sommelier?
A sommelier, or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. The role in fine dining today is much more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter. Anyone who a restaurant designates their “wine expert” can be called a sommelier, but a Certified Sommelier is someone who has received specialized education and passed tests to prove they possess specialized knowledge and skill. There are also Advanced Sommeliers and finally Master Sommeliers. There are only 149 Master Sommeliers in the United States and 236 worldwide, so you can imagine how difficult the training and testing is to earn that title.
The Court of Master Sommeliers has many classes for those aspiring to become sommeliers, starting with introductory classes that anyone can enroll in and advanced classes for those who already have vast experience.
Getting back to the situation where you’re in a position to choose a wine and you’re not sure, let the waiter or sommelier be your guide. Explain what your tastes are and the tastes of you guests as well as the food you’re eating. Ask for a selection of two or three wines and make your final decision based on what makes sense to you and your budget. The important thing is to enjoy yourself and not get wound up about the wine. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, so relax and have a good time!
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