Sommeliers are the underground rockstars of the Event and Food and Beverage Industry compared to Chefs in the Fine Dining Restaurant world. Their role is more significant than the public realizes or gives them credit. Chefs are the ones that bring art to the table and amaze customers their palate with new recipes. However, sommeliers complete customers their dining experience by pairing the correct wines with the correct recipes. When a Sommelier continues to educate themselves and becomes in-tune with the recipes that their chef creates. Sommeliers will be capable of using the new trends that are occurring in the wine industry. Which means they have the power to enhance the dining experience with stories of where and how the wine was made, and how it will taste with a specific dish. So in the end, a great sommelier will mesmerize customers with new rich flavors that will take them into an emotional dining experience.
What Makes A Great Sommelier?
Be Open Minded
Wine might be the main focus of Sommeliers, but over the last few years, it has expanded into whiskeys, brandies and other popular spirits. Since so many varieties of spirits are emerging in the responsibility of the position, it becomes clear that a Sommelier needs to be open-minded. So attempting to try and understand all of the different wines across the world without any prejudices is essential to the success of Sommelier. By being open-minded, you don't live in a dogma, because if you do, you miss out on so many excellent wines in the world that are worth sharing with guests.
“People don’t want to change their worldview; they like it, they embrace it, and they want it to be reinforced… as people, we’re here for the story and the way believing it makes us feel.” (Seth Godin) By now most successful business are aware that storytelling increases sales, and for Sommeliers, it plays an even a more significant role than you can imagine. Stories allow you to provide a sense of entertainment which means they will enable you to connect with the audience and start to spark interest, ideas, and scenarios in their mind before they even tasted the wine lets say. For example, providing a personal and strong backstory with a bottle of wine you traveled to discover and chose for this specific dish. Will allow you to swoon your customers and open their mind of the journey you will take them on.
Strong Relationship Between Sommelier And Chef
Sommelier and Chef are the dynamic duo that makes the fine dining experience worth talking about. These two have to work together because it's their job to do so. The responsibility lays with them to put together delicious food and excellent wine pairings on a regular basis. However, when these two work together very closely, they can create pairings between food and wine that will transcend the dining experience for their customers. A Sommelier or a Chef, can of course pair wine and food by themselves but will have a more difficult time to WOW their customers pallet. Both professionals have their unique and specific knowledge in their field, but combine them, and you will achieve results on the table customers could only dream of.
Significant Knowledge of Food
Even though a Sommeliers usually have a close relationship with their chef. It is critical that they have a vast knowledge of food. Just like Chefs have a pallet for wines a Sommelier needs one for food to be able to pair the right wines with dishes. This will allow them to enforce the chemistry and develop a great menu.
Never Stops Learning
Let us start of that mastering all of the basic rules of the appellation and not rush too hard for new and exciting is key to be great at understanding all wines. Second, after you have completed Level I – Introductory, Level II – Certified Sommelier, Level III – Advanced Sommelier, Level IV – Master Sommelier your education still never stops. To think you know everything about wines and spirits after obtaining your certificates is the wrong mindset. Great Sommeliers are always on the search to learn new aspects, trends, and facts about a bottle of wine they didn't know yet. They do this by traveling to traditional and upcoming Wine Regions, Vineyards, Wineries, Distillers in different countries or local, attend networking events, create relationships with other well-experienced Sommeliers and the list continues. To summarize everything you need to be absorbing the Sommelier culture non-stop, but it is a lot of fun while doing so.
Outgoing and Approachable
As any Hospitality professional you need to be outgoing and approachable while maintaining your ability to communicate your knowledge across in a laid-back way. It plays a significant role when educating your staff on the wine list. It also is a direct reflection on how well you can listen to your guest their wants. Your guest should be able to feel comfortable with you and be able to express their budget. By adopting this personality trait, you will strengthen the relationship with your customers, and execute your responsibilities more effectively. Thus, creating a better reputation for the business and an even greater experience for your customers.