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A sommelier, or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.
A sommelier may be responsible for the development of wine lists, and books and for the delivery of wine service and training for the other restaurant staff. Working along with the culinary team, they pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. This entails the need for a deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits and other beverages work in harmony. A professional sommelier also works on the floor of the restaurant and is in direct contact with restaurant patrons. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.
In modern times, a sommelier’s role may be considered broader than working only with wines, and may encompass all aspects of the restaurant’s service, with an enhanced focus on wines, beers, spirits, soft-drinks, cocktails, mineral waters, and tobaccos.
1) Menu preparation and wine/food pairing guidelines
Using his deep knowledge of wines, the Sommelier will consult with the executive chef to offer patrons wines that go well with menu items. Sommeliers can also be responsible for dessert wines, cocktails, and other dessert beverages.
2) Assisting guests
The Sommelier will be responsible for assisting members and guests during the dinner service with wine recommendations and selection for perfect pairing with their dinner, decanting of the wine and wine service. The Sommelier must have a great personality and be able to communicate with guests that might share different levels of wine knowledge.
3) Ordering, receiving, inventory, organizing and selling wine for all departments.
The Sommelier will be responsible for submitting orders for any beverage items necessary for running the kitchen. Also, the Sommelier is responsible for determining what items need to be purchased and submitting a budget for those items.
Like most kitchen professionals, a Sommelier is no different and the hours can be 40-60 hours per week, normally carried out over split service shifts covering breakfast/lunch and dinner service.
What can you expect to earn being a Sommelier? The position of Sommelier has a great deal of responsibilities and as a key part of the team you will spend most of your time cooking and preparing food in the kitchen.
Sommelier salaries will vary depending on experience in the kitchen, but will typically be in the region of £19,000 to £26,000 per year depending on experience. As of July 2017, the average salary for a Sommelier in the UK is £24,173 (Source: PayScale). If you have graduated or have a culinary degree and high skill set with lots of experience you will be in high demand and hit the higher end of the salary bracket. It also depends largely on the type of restaurant you are working for and the available budget they have.