Sommeliers or wine stewards are highly regarded in fine dining restaurants as the executive chef or chef de cuisine. These are trained and knowledgeable wine professionals that specialize in all aspects of wine service, like which wine pairs best with which foods. They are more than just a wine waiter, in that they can also be responsible for the development of wine lists and books as well as the delivery of wine service and training for the other staff at the restaurant.
They work directly with the patrons of a restaurant to determine the best wine choice for each patron based on taste, preferences, and budget. They possess a deep knowledge of how food and wine, spirits, beer, and other drinks work in harmony.
Formal training in the form of a two-year associate degree is usually the most a sommelier needs. A combination of experience, training, and education in the form of a degree, or just classes and examinations are required to be a professional certified sommelier. A basic education can be obtained for anywhere between $800 and $3,750 for a six month course.
The Court of Master Sommeliers is the most common educating body in the United States. The organization was established to improve the standards of beverage service and knowledge in restaurants and hotels. They offer classes to prepare candidates for four examinations. Passing all four tests results in a Master Sommelier diploma and title. Only 147 people have earned the title of Master Sommelier in the Americas chapter. The majority are men.
Beer sommelier, water sommelier, and sake sommelier are also options.
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