How does one become a sommelier?
Like getting to Carnegie Hall, it takes practice, lots of practice. But the nice part is that wine tasting is far more pleasant than doing scales over and over. Trust me, I know.
In purely technical terms, becoming a sommelier is achieved through study and tasting and then passing examinations given by the Court of Master Sommeliers. These exams test your knowledge of a myriad of topics such as: wine regions, vinification techniques, grape varietals, cocktail creation, service technique and also blind tasting, which is your ability to taste and identify a wine unknown to you at the begining of the test.
They have four levels of exams: Introductory, Certified, Advanced and Master. Once you have passed the Certified level, you may call yourself a sommelier. The testing gets increasingly difficult as the levels go up. There are only 180 Master Sommeliers in the world. Your chances of getting into Harvard are greater than passing the Master exam.
That, of course, is the way things are generally done today. However, I know many sommeliers who have never taken any exams and yet their knowledge, service style and tasting ability would rank them as some of the finest sommeliers in the nation. In the end it is your dedication to your craft that seperates you from the pack, just like any other industry. The great thing about this business is you can be buzzed at 10AM and claim to working. Not that I have ever seen anyone actually do that.