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How according to you has the role of the sommelier evolved, especially now during covid times?

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09/11/2021 Here are top Sommeliers talking about the evolution of the role of a Sommelier during the pandemic.

Michael Smith: I think the role is going to evolve quite a lot. I think you’ll see less and less of a floor sommelier with restaurants not having the same economy. You’ll find more “jack of all trades” somms who may be a manager, GM, or something else helping out in the restaurant. A lot of us have to pivot a bit career-wise and be a little creative to stay in the wine world with restaurants hurting as bad as they are. I know some people leaving restaurants and going to retail wine shops or education. For myself, I won’t be on the floor for a while and decided to do a harvest this year on the central coast!

Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Ivan Zanovello: This is a difficult one. The hospitality side of it disappeared overnight and the role became mostly about cellar management; using creativity to build an offer with existing inventory. Most restaurants became retailers entering a very competitive market. We tried to offer services that normally you wouldn't find in retail stores such as my personal contact for live suggestions and pairings.

Max Goldberg: It seems as if a lot of sommeliers took advantage of the relaxed liquor laws by selling off inventory at a heavily discounted price from the wine list. Though it definitely may have affected the bottom line, it’s given many of us great opportunities to start fresh once dining resumes to a full capacity.

Jared Hooper: The sommelier has been a rapidly changing role in the US over the past 30 years or so. I think largely its a reflection of the public's view of food and wine. Hopefully, as sommeliers, we are truly fulfilling the job description, which as far as I am concerned, is to help make wine accessible and fun. If we're not adding ease and enjoyment to the process, then why are we here? If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.

Covid has obviously had an enormous short-term impact on the restaurant industry, most of our restaurants are closed, and we are out of work. I do believe we will come back from this, and that we will recover as a Nation. What is unknown is what this new world will look like. Many weaknesses in our systems have been exposed, and hopefully, we will come out on the other side stronger, and more aware of our fellow humans in this business.

Jared Hooper

Jared Hooper

Joben Herrera: The pandemic has changed everything. Sommeliers in my opinion have always been some of the leaders when it comes to Hospitality. But since Covid with the whole social distance thing, it’s difficult to be as warm and welcoming. It’s very touch and go now.

Catherine Morel: On the restaurant side, we have plans in place for how we are going to be handling wine service once indoor dining can restart-  on the non-restaurant side, the somm/wine community is incredible-  the amount of support (educational/financial/emotional/professional) that has been happening is just so wonderful. I have had positions before where I only had sommelier duties but in my current position, I have multiple roles & responsibilities in addition to the wine program. I think that is going to be more the norm going forward as the restaurant industry recovers from the past few months

Catherine Morel

Catherine Morel

Tanner Johnson: Guests have been cooped up in their homes drinking whatever they can get their hands on. I now sense their excitement to be out at a restaurant again. They are showing a willingness to be adventurous with their drink selection.

Tanner Johnson

Tanner Johnson

Ryan Hess: It’s constantly changing, and in the wake of Covid I feel like my role has definitely taken on much more of a home consultant to people that want to buy wine and drink while at home.