What IS a Sommelier?

As people learn more about wine and begin trying wines in restaurants, strange terms begin cropping up. One term that many wine drinkers ask about is 'Sommelier'. The term can now be seen applied to tequila, beer, chiles, and even chocolates. Usually, however, 'Sommelier' is reserved for its original definition - a specialist wine waiter or wine steward.

Dictionary.Com defines Sommelier as:
som�me�lier (sml-y, s�m-ly) n. : A wine steward in a restaurant.
A rather dry definition. Sommelier is a French term (which most people could guess) and describes the individual who needs to know how to match each wine on the wine menu with the various foods the restaurant serves. Some restaurants also have the sommelier in charge of actual wine cellar stocking and replenishing.

Sommeliers are in charge of the interesting wine-serving ritual, involving the showing of the cork, the pouring of the sample, and the remaining wine pouring.

Many countries have official organizations of Sommeliers, which overlooks the testing and certification of Sommeliers. The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) is the governing body for Sommeliers, working worldwide to promote good wine skills and knowledge. Some of the larger country organizations are the Sommelier Society of America (SSA), Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (ACSP), Union de la Sommellerie Fran�aise, Union de Associaciones Espanolas de Sumilleres, and the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers.

There are also fun contests where wine lovers test their skills against each other. One such is the Sommelier Mondial. Held every three years, this contest pits 30 delegations against each other for the title.

In addition to the Sommelier Society of America (SSA), which oversees sommeliers in the US, there is also the Court of Master Sommeliers. This is geared towards restaurant and service individuals, and to take their main coursework you must have at least 5 years experience in the industry. There is also the Masters of Wine course, which under 200 people have attained, which is the highest level of specialized wine certification there is.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.