What a Sommelier Does

The navigators of the wine world

Sommeliers are leaders of pristine wine service and cultivators of an elevated dining experience. In addition to wine service, a sommelier uses their skills and knowledge to create wine lists, coordinate food pairings, facilitate wine education, and more. In fact, sommeliers are often responsible for the entire beverage selection, including beer, sake, spirits, and cocktails. 


Sommeliers are usually associated with fine dining restaurants; however, there are many other career opportunities that exist.

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A Rewarding and Enriching Journey

Sommeliers are offered the unique opportunity to explore and deepen their understanding of the intricate world of wines, from grape varietals to terroirs and winemaking techniques.

What is The Role?

With deep knowledge and a refined palate, Sommeliers share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others, guiding them in selecting the perfect wine for any occasion.

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A woman holding a wine bottle at a table, ready to enjoy a drink.

Beyond Wine Selection

Sommeliers play a pivotal role in enhancing the overall dining experience, fostering connections with patrons, and contributing to the success of a restaurant or wine establishment.

Career Benefits

The pursuit of becoming a sommelier opens doors to a fascinating world of culture, travel, history, and continuous learning. The sommelier’s certification process provides a structured path for this ongoing education.

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The Role of a Sommelier in a Restaurant

There’s so much more than recommending wine.

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Wine Selection

Sommeliers curate wine lists, staying on top of trends to select wines that complement cuisine and cater to diverse customer tastes. Wine selection is critical to a restaurant’s success: It’s not enough to have exciting wines on the list, they also need to sell!

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Wine Pairing

A sommelier can suggest wine pairings to enhance the flavors and characteristics of the dishes being served, leaving guests with an unforgettable experience. This not only leaves guests satisfied, it often leads to higher check averages overall.

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Wine Service

Sommeliers are trained in proper wine service, including opening and decanting wine, serving it at the correct temperature, and ensuring proper glassware and presentation.

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Wine Education

Sommeliers are often responsible for educating both staff and customers about wine. They may conduct wine tastings, offer recommendations, and answer questions about wine-related topics. A well-rounded and knowledgeable team leads to increased sales and profitability.

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Cellar Management

In some cases, sommeliers may manage the establishment’s wine cellar, including inventory management, storage, and purchasing, to ensure the right wines are available to guests.

How to Become a Sommelier

The career path of a sommelier is exciting and nontraditional, involving a combination of formal education, practical experience, and certifications. As one embarks on this journey, you will discover that each step offers unique challenges and opportunities for growth.

Foundational wine knowledge

Read as much as you can, and attend wine-related events and masterclasses. You will soon build a solid foundation and help to expand your knowledge about different wine regions, grape varieties, winemaking techniques, and wine history.

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Get Certified

The Court of Master Sommeliers has four levels of certifications:


  • Introductory Sommelier Course & Examination
  • Certified Sommelier Examination
  • Advanced Sommelier Course & Examination
  • Master Sommelier Diploma Examination

While all four exams have a theory portion, the upper three levels also test you on blind tasting and hospitality & service.

CMSA Members smiling at the camera showing a Master Sommelier certification

Practice tasting skills

Attend wine tastings, join a wine club, or practice with your friends and colleagues to refine your ability to identify aromas, flavors, and characteristics in wine.

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Work in the industry

Start as a server, barback, or bartender in a restaurant or hotel to learn about wine service, customer interaction, and the dynamics of a professional kitchen.

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Build a network

Form lasting connections with other wine professionals, sommeliers, winemakers, and wine distributors.

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What are the benefits
of employing a sommelier?

A sommelier plays a crucial role in driving profitability, by enhancing wine service, improving customer satisfaction, and offering differentiation in the competitive hospitality industry.

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Increased Wine Sales

Sommeliers can suggest wine pairings with meals, upsell wine by the glass, and recommend premium wine selections.

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Satisfy Customers

A sommelier’s presence can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and repeat business.

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Manage Inventory

Sommeliers are responsible for managing wine inventory, reducing waste, controlling costs, and maximizing the profitability of wine sales.

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Supplier Relationships

Working closely with wine suppliers and distributors, sommeliers negotiate favorable pricing and terms, increasing wine sale profitability.

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Wine Events & Promotions

Sommeliers can organize wine events, tastings, and promotions, to attract customers, generate revenue, and build buzz.

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Staff Training

Sommeliers train restaurant staff and servers on wine service and sales techniques, for more effective wine service.

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Wine Cellar Management

A sommelier can ensure proper storage conditions and an appealing wine selection.

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Branding & Differentiation

A well-curated wine program can be a unique selling point for the restaurant, setting it apart from competitors and attracting wine-focused customers.

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