February 25, 2017 at 10:07 am

A Little History On the Sommelier

It seems there has been a resurgence in the culture of alcohol—from the reviving of old cocktails to the immense popularity of craft beers—but one thing has never really changed: the culture of wine in social functions and, in particular how it pairs with food.

A person who is quite skilled at this very special Jabs Bar  talent is known as a sommelier. This is actually derived from the Middle French where it referred, originally, to a court official whose job was to transport supplies.  Some argue, too, that this Middle French etymology might even derive from the Old French, “saumalier,” which is just the driver of a pack animal (used, obviously, historically when pack animals were a common form of supply transport).  The term used today is, of course, still French but it, essentially means “wine steward,” in today’s vernacular.

A sommelier, though, does more than just manage wine.  Indeed, the term “steward” is all encompassing: it means to not only protect, manage, and serve wine, but to also have vast knowledge of wine, cultivation, and culture.  Sommerliers also tend to have exquisite palates.  Thus, they not only know where wine grapes are cultivated and bottled but also which grapes and vintages pair with which types of food.


As such, this knowledge and these skill sets make the sommelier quite an important member of any fine dining establishment.  A professional sommelier can make perfectly paired menu recommendations, putting not only dishes together with glasses of wine, but helping you better enjoy your meal by making the perfect recommendations for each course in your meal. In fact, some people in the industry even argue that the sommelier’s proficiency, excellence, and importance may even be on par with the chef de cuisine (the Executive Chef, who is in charge of menu development, etc).

Now, anybody can be a sommelier but it actually takes a bit of education and experience. While it certainly helps to have quite the versatile palate, in order to be considered a “professional” sommelier” it helps to earn, at least, a 2-year associate’s degree, with a focus on some of the things mentioned above.  You do not need a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree, thankfully.  You can also take 6-month certification courses, which can cost between $800 and $3750 USD, as well as advanced degrees that offer more specific training that will better serve you in the food and beverage industry.

Comments are closed.