The sommelier is an interesting professional figure, multifaceted and not always graspable at first glance. Even more so in a constantly evolving world. Heart, culture, great competence... but what job does a sommelier really do?
We wrote about it at the beginning of our adventure: etymologically, the sommelier acts as a viaticum : he is the figure who tells wine enthusiasts about the wine and thus creates a bridge with the producer. If the profession is very ancient (the first testimonies comparable to this profession date back to 16 centuries before Christ), at least in Italy it is not certain that those who are sommeliers live from this profession.
After all, the world of wine is rapidly evolving and the interest it arouses among the increasingly broad and heterogeneous public is there for all to see. And that of the sommelier is a central figure.
The sommelier profession is constantly evolving
Until a few years ago, the role of the sommelier was (not only but) substantially identified with those who apply service techniques inside restaurants .
Today the profession of sommelier is no longer one thing
Due to the proliferation of new opportunities and different places for wine: wine shops, wine bars, but also the growth of wine clubs, large-scale distribution, wine delivery, consultancy activities... together with the world of journalism, guides, teaching, of dissemination, which also have an important role in forming the public's opinions on individual labels.
This is also why the figure of the sommelier is becoming increasingly multifaceted
By mastering not only tasting techniques and wine knowledge, but also the financial, marketing and communication aspects... an all-round wine culture .
What does a sommelier do in a restaurant?
This remains a great classic, and the tasks of the sommelier in the restaurant can be grouped into three large areas.
1. In relation to customers , the sommelier is the figure who advises customers which wine to take, who answers their curiosities, tells the wine and the history of the cellar.
2. After all, the sommelier is the one who builds and takes care of, conserves and supplies the restaurant's cellar and who designs the wine list, continuously renewed in proportion to his curiosity and research capacity.
3. In relation to food , the sommelier is the figure who prepares the sequence of wines in relation to the proposed menu in the restaurant. Whether it follows the rule of progression following the food or whether it proposes combinations that upset the rules, this depends on many factors, not least the type of restaurant and the attitude of the sommelier himself.
What does a sommelier do in a wine bar or wine shop?
Everything is more informal and direct in a wine bar , but the competence of the sommelier is always what makes the difference. In the relationship with food, although present, wine is truly at the center here: discovered, valorised, varied, told.
The sommelier in a wine bar is gradually cupbearer of unforgettable drinks, oracle and advisor. And it is precisely the mix of direct relationship and passion of individuals that wine bars can become true places of wine culture , between meetings with producers, themed tastings, continuous innovations in the offer.
Similar speech for the wine shop , in which the sommelier also takes on a consultancy role. In addition to the professionalism of those who choose the bottles with the commitment of a curator of ancient paintings, in the wine shop more than ever the sommelier's ability to listen makes the difference.
What does a sommelier do in large-scale retail trade?
The sommelier's activities in large-scale retail trade are more linked to marketing, scouting and the management of financial aspects, because by its nature the channel does not include assisted sales.
And then there is the world of disclosure
Which allows sommeliers to share discoveries, journeys, inclinations and personal tastings in a widespread and direct way. Therefore magazines, blogs, radio and TV, conferences and seminars, but also the simple social channels of individuals become knowledge tools and important sharing platforms, from which consultancy activities can arise.
Tips for becoming a sommelier
- Taste, taste, taste. Taste without prejudice, with the desire to understand.
- Always study, which in this world (as in many others) you have never achieved.
- Share this passion with others: friends, family, companions... the exchange multiplies ideas.
A profession, that of the sommelier, which if interpreted with intelligence and curiosity by an expert bottler today becomes an increasingly driving force for wine culture . It is no coincidence that the figure of the sommelier is at the center of our model : the one who selects the cellars and bottles to include in our selections.