The World of the Sommelier

Who is the sommelier? How does one become a sommelier?

The world of the sommelier has changed: until a few years ago, the sommelier was only considered to be the person who knew the techniques of wine service and applied them perfectly in a restaurant room. Today, the sommelier has to deal with the wine world at 360°, from the management of the cellar and wine list in a restaurant to the selection of wines in a large retail chain.

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What requirements must the Sommelier have?

Humanity and Professionalism

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The sommelier must know how to present himself to customers with politeness and politeness, excellent dialectics, diplomacy, self-control, verbal and gestural correctness, a measured elegance in movements and no theatricality. Being a job that is carried out in contact with the public, the sommelier must know how to deal with every type of person, from the most approachable to the most demanding, with a good psychological intuition to establish a feeling with even the most difficult customers. If he works in a high-class establishment, he must be able to express himself correctly in English (international language) and French (language of wine).

Culture and Technology

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A good general culture is essential for the sommelier who often works in highly prestigious environments where he/she has contact with people of all cultural levels, including the highest. The sommelier must have basic knowledge of viticulture, oenology and the production systems of the different types of wines, sparkling wines, liqueurs and spirits, tasting & pairing techniques and service & communication. As the sommelier must be able to set up and manage the cellar, management knowledge, economics and mastery of the use of IT tools as well as good managerial skills and initiative are also essential.

Knowing languages is also fundamental because the sommelier, by nature, must be culturally curious and open to market changes and new trends in all products of the oenological world, and must therefore undertake study trips and food and wine tours, visit companies in Italy and abroad, participate in conferences and seminars on wine and build relationships with producers and distributors in different countries.

The main associations in Italy and worldwide

Worldwide Sommelier Association (W.S.A.) is the association of Sommeliers around the world, established to spread the culture of wine and food by bringing together the world's most prestigious associations involved in the sector. The member states are: Italy, San Marino, England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Russia, Caribbean, Brazil, USA, Japan. The path chosen to achieve the objectives passes through the organisation of Great Events of international scope, refined and exclusive themed showcases that allow the excellent productions of each country to be displayed.

L'Italian Sommelier Association (A.I.S.) was founded in Milan on 7 July 1965 by Gianfranco Botti (1st president of the AIS), Jean Valenti, Leonardo Guerra and Ernesto Rossi. Their objectives were to enhance the image of Italian wine and revalue the Sommelier profession (in decline in France and non-existent in Italy). On 15 September 1973, the AIS was legally recognised by a Decree of the President of the Republic and set itself up as a competent and professional training body for sommeliers, who work in the catering sector and disseminate wine culture as fully and thoroughly as possible.

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