Sommelier is French for wine waiter or steward but the day-to-day duties of a modern day sommelier are much more complex than simply pouring wine. A sommelier will source and procure wines and stemware (glasses) fitting for their restaurant and clientele, manage and rotate cellar stock profitably and provide expert advice to patrons on their wine selection. A sommelier will normally have a broader focus than wines alone, sourcing beer, spirits and other beverages for the drink menu which expands the role enormously considering some city restaurants feature lists in excess of 500 wines alone. Working alongside the chefs a sommelier will pair and suggest wines that best complement each particular food menu item. For example, a seafood restaurant wine list would most likely feature a good selection of sparkling and white wines, and lighter reds as this is normally what most people would choose to match the menu. A good sommelier is ahead of emerging trends in food and wine which encourages the perception that they are contributing to the trend. A sommelier may also be responsible for the delivery of wine service training for the other restaurant staff. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron and should ensure that the wines he or she recommends enhance the flavours and make the dining experience memorable. A skilled sommelier will ensure the wines are opened and served correctly and will assess wines for taints and other problems. Sommeliers play a key role in restaurants and can greatly enhance a restaurant's operation and reputation. While a well considered wine list may not be the hero of a dining experience over an excellent chef or enviable restaurant views, it certainly refines the occasion.
A sommelier should have a broad knowledge of local and international wines, with an understanding of the best regions, Champagne houses, Châteaux’s and outstanding vintages and ensure their wine list has a good representation of a wide selection of wines. Many sommeliers develop their skills through a passion for wine and time spent working with wine and food. Others travel extensively to wine regions to try new wines, add depth to their knowledge and find the hidden gems which make their wine list interesting and unique. More recently a number of education opportunities have become available to those seeking a career as a sommelier. Today in Australia a sommelier has access to online casinos various levels of education and awards to nurture their passion and dedication.
Next time you find yourself staring at a wine list wondering which wine will best suit your ballotine of rabbit, foie gras and capocollo with ginger bread, pumpkin and a pomegranate dressing, catch the eye of the sommelier and let him take you on a wine journey that will escalates your meal to a breathtaking level.