A sommolier (French, pronounced sum ul ee yay) is a highly skilled and elite professional who has a good “nose” especially trained for wine. The Sommolier is a trained professional whose job includes selecting wines for a restaurant’s list and then managing the purchase, storage, sales and service of the inventory. His or her job is to also recommend wine pairings when one looks at an extensive wine menu and simply doesn’t know what would be a brilliant choice.
Ordinarily one is born with this good “nose” and it is recognised early on as a gift. Someone with a good “nose” is hyper-sensitive to the smells around them and can smell things ordinary people can’t. For example, a young child might smell a dead rat or mildew when others can’t, and this ability to smell these things can drive them crazy. That’s when a parent recognises the good nose and can steer their children into professions that require it, much like a parent whose child is born with a voice encourages them to persue a singing career or join the choir.
You will recognise members of this elite profession by the wearing of the “tastevin”, which is traditional sommerlier gear, and which they wear around their neck. The impressions in the cup highlight color and clarity of a wine.
You will find sommoliers in finer restaurants, private clubs and at the parties of well-heeled friends, but did you know that sommoliers actually go through years of training and there are an elite few colleges in the United States that offer this training?
The University of California at Davis, which has an extensive vintner’s agricultural program, and where most of the famous vintners children go to learn the latest in the technologies of the business, train sommoliers the world over and do you know where many of them find work?
In Dubai, of all places, where a good bottle of wine can go for $8,000.
A sommolier knows that even the way a bottle is handled can change the dynamics of its bouquet and so typically handle the bottle delicately to give it the treatment and respect it deserves. As a patron, if the bottle is handled poorly by wait staff it would be good reason to demand a new bottle prior to its opening. If we’ve seen this once, we’ve seen it a hundred times.
Now you’re in the know.