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Sommelier education and certifications around the world

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06/12/2018 Want to be one of the top sommeliers? Here are some certifications which you can opt.

Sommeliers are in demand all around the world. They are trained and knowledgeable wine professionals who develop the wine list for restaurants and figure out which wine will complement which food item.  They also train other restaurant staff about different wines & wine basics.

Elvis Ziakos, Head Sommelier at Greenhouse Restaurant defines Sommelier as a Multi-tool. Besides wines & beverages, they must be part of the whole service in the restaurant, that lead in team spirit, focus and perfection. Depend on the character, ambition and dreams of everyone, there are many routes beyond the role of the sommelier – Director of Wine, Importer and dare are saying sales roles.

As per Marco Iaccarino, the Head Sommelier at Murano Restaurant, The essential sommelier role is to suggest wines to guests, food match where required and to do that with the certain style of the restaurant. Glassware falls under the sommeliers' responsibilities, including selecting the right glass for the right wine and ensuring that polishing provides for spotless delivery. Marketing also falls to us to a certain degree – doing interviews like this for example. However, on a more detailed level, a sommelier's tasks go beyond wine. We must talk with guests, ensuring that they are comfortable and to be able to engage in a wide range of subjects from culture through to football.

One of the top Sommeliers in business, Anna Botting, says the biggest challenge is to move from Sommelier to Head sommelier because we don’t get a chance to train to be a manager. All of a sudden you are responsible for training, the people themselves and so many other areas. You become an accountant managing stock and an excel expert. This opens up the area to the very different diverse areas of the trade. I know sommeliers that have become winemakers, writers, the Dark-side (sales reps), the importing side"

Here are some of the sommelier certifications around the world that can help you become an advanced sommelier.

1)  Union de la Sommellerie Française

Union de la Sommellerie Française was found in 1970 in Paris (France). They offer two-degree programs, the Mention Complementary Sommellerie & the Sommelier Professional Certificate. The former one is carried out either by school alternately in 1 year (12 weeks of internship having 10 weeks in the training center and the rest in business) and the later exists only by change over 2 years. The only requirement is that the person enrolling in these courses must have at least a CAP in the Hotel and Catering sector or any other diploma in this sector.

2) Associazione Italiana Sommelier

Associazione Italiana Sommelier is an Italian non-profit organization established in Milan in 1965. It is one of the oldest and the largest sommelier association in the world, featuring more than 30,000 members only in Italy. Certificates issued by Associazione Italiana Sommelier are recognized all over the world. It offers a three-level certified sommelier course leading to AIS Sommelier Diploma (Silver) and a Professional Sommelier Qualification leading to an AIS Professional Sommelier Diploma (Gold). It also offers Master Sommelier Diploma since 2009 which provides the finishing touches to the Sommelier’s training.

3) Wine & Spirit Education Trust

They provide best education & qualification to the world’s wine & spirits enthusiasts. WSET was established in 1969 for the UK wine trade. Wine & Spirit Education Trust qualification works over 70 countries and more than 15 languages. The school in London provides full WSET qualifications along with tasting sessions, career talks, and bespoke programmes.

4) The Court of Master Sommeliers

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in 1977 to encourage quality standards for beverage service in hotels and restaurants. Courses are regularly conducted throughout Europe, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. To reach the qualification of Master of Sommelier, one has to go through the 4 stages which are Introductory Sommelier Certificate (3 Days), Certified Sommelier Examination (1 Day), Advanced Sommelier Certificate (5 Days), Master Sommelier Diploma. A worldwide total of 273 persons earned their Master Sommelier diploma since the Court’s inception.

5) International Sommelier Guild

International Sommelier Guild was established in 1982 in North America. It offers a classroom-based educational approach designed to lead wine enthusiasts down the path of Sommelier. The instructors in this intuition are renowned chefs, restaurant owners, hospitality consultants, wine directors, importers, distributors, and retailers. They provide various certificates like Intermediate Wine Certificate, Advanced Wine Certificate, ISGM, Teacher Education Program (TEP) & Fundamentals of Wine (FWC).

6) International Wine & Spirits Guild

International Wine & Spirits Guild provides technical understanding and increased knowledge of wine at three levels: Level 1-Fundamental, Level 2- Intermediate & Level 3- Advanced or Master. To become a Guild member, one must complete either the Guild Wine Seminar (one weekend) or the Advanced Wine Course. Guild also conducts various wine classes for the general public.

7) North American Sommelier Association

North American Sommelier Association is a non-profit organization headquartered in Los Angeles. It provides training, education & appreciation to wine professional & enthusiasts. They offer programs like Silver Pin Sommelier, Specialist courses, Master courses & Wine Primer Introductory course. They also conduct seminars & webinars of various wine regions.

8) National Wine School

National Wine School provides accreditation services to independent wine schools. The school accredited by National Wine School has shown the highest levels of job placement for its students. The program offers current wine education programs. The NWS offers ANSI-compliant testing and professional certification through California.

9) Commission of European Sommeliers

It was established in Bulgaria in 1997. They offered certificate programs like ‘Certified Sommelier’ which takes 10 days to complete, ‘Advanced Sommelier’ & ‘Master Sommelier’ both taking additional 8 days to complete.

10) Peter Neptune School of Wine

 Peter Neptune School of Wine is based in Southern California and offers Wine and Spirit Education Trust Courses as well as the French Wine Scholar Program. The WSET course has different levels through which students can earn their official WSET credentials. They also offer Specialty classes and Blind tasting workshop throughout the year.

11) San Francisco Wine School

As the name says San Francisco Wine School is based in San Francisco. It consists of multiple workshops over the course of days or months wherein a certification exam is also included. Classes are conducted on various subjects like Blind tasting, Services, Food and wine pairing, Business of wine & other beverages.

12) Napa Valley Wine Academy

Napa Valley Wine Academy is considered one of the premier wine schools in America. It is based in California and is a provider of WSET courses across the US. They provide various certification courses local wine shop classes to internationally recognized programs.

13) Wine Academy Italia

Wine Academy Italia offers a range of specialist training services to organizations across Italy. It is an approved programme provider for the WSET offering courses all across Italy. It also offers students the highest quality of teaching the courses offered by WSET Certified Educators.

14) Wine School Bordeaux

Wine School Bordeaux is the first wine school in France based in Bordeaux. It offers courses in wine & spirit certification and workshops that are ideal for amateurs and professionals in the wine industry.

15) The Sydney Wine Academy

The Sydney Wine Academy was established in 1969 for the UK wine Trade. It provides world-class training for the hospitality and wine industry. Their course ranges from beginner level to specialized industry qualifications. They offer courses of WSET that are recognized in over 70 countries across the world.

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