Interested In Making A Sommelier Salary?

Becoming a wine Sommelier
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There’s a level of prestige and glamor surrounding a wine Sommelier and I’m sure there are several out there curious about an education in wine and what it entails. So I’ve compiled some information on what it takes to earn a Sommelier salary and be one of the two hundred recognized Masters in the world.

How Do You Become A Sommelier? Well, the certification has only existed since 1953 with the Institute of Masters of Wine in England being the first to implement their Master Sommelier (MS) program and with the renowned Court of Master Sommeliers introducing their Master of Wine (MW) course in 1977. Both titles hold equal prestige, but there are some differences among the two. Obtaining a Master of Wine degree involves more of the academics behind learning about wine, while a Master Sommelier title involves academics and hands-on experience, meaning restaurant experience, handling wine, your existing wine knowledge.

Attending the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) program begins with the Introductory course. It’s a 2-day wine seminar that encompasses vineyards around the world, viticultural practices, winemaking and winemaking techniques, appellations and their regulations, food and wine pairing, cigar and wine pairing, wine service and identifying wines through blind tastings. On the last day, you take the Sommelier exam. You must score at least 60% on the exam to pass.

The Advanced course is a more detailed repeat of the Introductory course. While covering the same material in detail, the course lasts a day longer and the exam expands two days of three sections. On the first day you are presented with an hour to complete roughly 80 questions, 20 of which are multiple choice and 60 odd short answer questions. The second section covers a twenty-five minute blind wine tasting headed by two Master Sommeliers where you have to indentify six wines. In the third section, you are scored on your ability to serve wine. This includes decanting, cigar service, pairing food and wine, table setting, preparing wine lists and handling guests. Amazingly only about a quarter of students pass this portion of the test, so you can see why it’s good to have experience prior to testing. If you are successful, you will become a certified Sommelier under the Advanced Sommelier title.

The Master Sommelier course is available by invite only. If invited, you will be given the Advanced course questions in an oral exam. You must wait one year after passing the previous Advanced course in order to attempt the Master course.

I mentioned the 200 some Masters recognized world-wide in the opening paragraph. It is estimated that only about 250 applicants have actually achieved the status of Master of Wine, while almost half of that have attained the status of Master Sommelier.

There are other ways to becoming a Sommelier that don’t require obtaining a Master status. There are several colleges that offer wine courses as part of their curriculum, especially in wine country, USA. If you already have experience in the wine industry, including working in a restaurant, you are half way there.

Once you are there though, the salary of a seasoned Master Sommelier is quite astronomical and can exceed $160,000 USD a year. Even less experienced Sommeliers can achieve salaries in the upper $60k.

It takes a real commitment and a true love of wine to pursue a Sommelier school of any kind. There is no recognized standard outside of the two Master schools, but individual experience will help tremendously in pursuit of any wine career as a Sommelier. Formal experience in a fine dining restaurant is probably the single best method to learn about wine without technical training. From there, you success is dependent only upon your passion for wine.

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