The sommelier is mainly a professional able to perform an organoleptic analysis of the wine in order to evaluate the type, quality, characteristics and evolutionary potential, and also capable to provide the correct wine pairing food.
To become a sommelier it is necessary to pass a highly professional qualification course. The study program for sommelier is divided into three levels and it allows to enter the fascinating and manifold world of the wine by exploring various matters that range from viticulture and oenology topics to tasting techniques and wine pairing food methods. At the end of the three year training course a very hard qualifying examination is scheduled, after which the title of sommelier is obtained.
The professional sommelier must know the main wine producing regions of the world (enography), along with the wine regulations, the wine history and the relevant viticulture and oenology techniques, as well as vines, grapes and wines from all over the world.
The sommelier must also perfectly know the tasting techniques in order to perform a correct organoleptic analysis, practicing with continuous tastings to keep his olfactory and gustatory memory always trained.
The sommelier must also necessarily have in depth knowledge of viticulture and oenology practices with relevant winemaking methods, and must always be updated on market news and on everything concerning the qualitative aspect of the wine (with particular reference to production, vintages, legislation and regulations).
In Italy the three year training courses for professional sommeliers, divided into three levels, are organized by various associations, among which the best known and most qualified is F.I.S.A.R. (Italian Federation Sommeliers, Restaurateurs and Hoteliers).
With the first level the students learn the tasting technique through the visual, olfactory and gustatory analysis of the wine. During the first level, very important topics on viticulture and oenology are also provided, including engineering practices and wine making techniques.
With the second level the realities of domestic and international enography are explored, together with the geography of the wine through an accurate study of all the various denominations and appellations (DOCG and DOC in Italy, AOC and VDQS in France, etc.), and the related wine legislation and regulations in addition to the wine tasting card are also introduced.
The third level deals with the wine pairing food technique and the deepening of tasting analyses also through the use of a suitable graphic card.
In view of the above, the main tasks and duties of a professional sommelier can be in the end summarized as follows:
- know in depth viticulture, oenology, wine history, enography, geography of the wine, tasting and wine pairing food techniques and vinification methods, wine engineering practices and winemaking procedures, as well as vines, grapes and wines from all over the world
- be constantly updated on all market news about the wine and on every matters related to the qualitative aspect of the wine (with particular reference to production, vintages, legislation and regulations)
- perform accurate and exhaustive wine organoleptic analyses
- assign a “score” to the wine using the system in cents with the score calculated according to the performed organoleptic analysis
- provide professional advices, recommendations and sugge-stions as very qualified wine expert and skilled critic and key opinion leader of the wine sector
The role and responsibilities of the sommelier have become so important and influent in the world wine scenery that nowadays the most famous and qualified international rating agencies use consulting of professional sommeliers to draw up every year their rankings of the best wines in the world.
Written by: Diego Vita Sommelier
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