With a sommelier’s expertise in wine tasting and pairing, wine theory, and wine service, a sommelier is a beneficial addition to any country club. A sommelier’s main task is to help patrons select the right wines; however, working as a sommelier comes with a long list of responsibilities beyond selecting and serving wine. A certified sommelier requires some level of formal education, training and experience, but there are also many important skills and characteristics that contribute to a sommelier’s success in the club industry.
Sommeliers are dedicated to providing a very high level of service and strive to surpass expectations. As a sommelier, you are part of the service team, no matter how high up you get. One of the most valuable ways to train as a sommelier is to begin working as a server to understand how service works, along with finding a mentor. Some sommeliers begin by working in the foodservice industry under the guidance of experienced sommeliers. There are tricks and tools of the trade that you are only going to learn in the field, working under someone who knows what they’re doing and is invested in teaching you.
A sommelier is a hospitality professional, so the customer service aspect of the job may be most important. Sommeliers are dedicated to providing a very high level of service and strive to surpass expectations. A sommelier should be present, engaging and anticipating members’ needs combined with the knowledge, empathy and genuine interest in delivering a memorable experience. A sommelier needs to be personable and be able to connect with members and tell a story. It can be difficult during a busy service, but a sommelier needs to establish trust with members. By always taking the time to slow down and truly understand what a member is looking for can often help exceed their expectations and earn their trust.
A sommelier must have strong communication and social skills in order to work with winemakers, chefs, servers and members. They must be good at adapting to different environments, have the ability to work in a fast-paced environment, and be quick on their feet. Sommeliers must also have impeccable attention to detail and patience, especially when dealing with member requests. A good sommelier needs to handle difficult situations sensitively, understanding that everyone has different opinions and tastes. They should be able to use their personality and knowledge to suggest wines that can satisfy the palate and the needs of the entire table.
A sommelier must gain expansive knowledge of types of grape, wine regions and geography, and wine history and be willing to continue their education throughout their career. A sommelier works hard to obtain sound knowledge on both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, food and wine pairings, as well as keeping up with the latest wine trends. Sommeliers are specialists in certain techniques, such as how to pour drinks and serve guests along with possessing good manners when handling and tasting wine. Sommeliers must also build the wine list, create food and wine pairings while working closely with the chef, discuss menu content and wine lists, demonstrate an ability to sell, manage the wine portfolio, monitor the financial aspects, provide advice to patrons and train staff.
The job of a sommelier requires many repetitive tasks day in and day out, but it also comes with meeting new people, discovering new wines, traveling to vineyards or wine fairs and, of course, a lot of eating and enjoying wine. In the wine industry, it’s impossible to just rely on your knowledge. A sommelier’s training should never stop, but becoming a successful sommelier with a country club requires certain skills and characteristics beyond that of an education.