A career as a sommelier allows you to play a vital part in the world of wine by serving as a connection between wine producers and consumers. Furthermore, sommeliers play an important role in spreading wine culture and educating people about various wines. Additionally, they ensure that everyone has access to the skill of wine tasting and appreciation.


A sommelier is a specialist in wine service, storage, and food pairings, as well as its production, history, location, and varietals. These professionals are hired by places such as bars, hotels, restaurants and vineyards to help their customers enjoy their dining experiences. Starting a career as a sommelier requires training and some years of experience to become a professional. However, you can find this career fulfilling if you are passionate about wine and its production. If you are interested in pursuing this career, you must learn about this career path and the steps to take.


In this piece, I will explain the steps needed to start a career as a sommelier. And, I will list the various types of sommeliers that specialise in specific areas of the wine industry. 


How to Become a Sommelier

  1. Enrol in a Wine School: In pursuing a career as a sommelier, you must choose the right wine school. You should research various wine schools and ensure their credibility. Additionally, you can look out for schools that have a strong reputation for producing successful sommeliers. Before you make a decision, you can consider factors such as the professors, resources, curriculum, and alumni network.
  2. Gain a basic understanding of wine: You need to have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of wine to become a sommelier. This can be achieved through ways such as self-study, attending wine courses, or working in the wine industry. Additionally, you should develop the ability to accurately evaluate and describe wines, including their aromas, flavours, and structure. Furthermore, you should learn about proper wine service, food and wine pairings and communication with customers.
  3. Gain Practical Experience: Gaining practical experience is vital for your growth as a sommelier. You can gain experience through internships in places such as a restaurant or a bar. This experience will enable you to build the skills you need to succeed as a sommelier. Additionally, it allows you to apply your theoretical knowledge in real-life scenarios.
  4. Attend Wine tastings and Industry Events: You can learn about different types and styles of wine by participating in wine tastings. Additionally, the professionals you meet at these kinds of events can open doors for career opportunities. These events can also help you to refine your tasting skills.
  5. Obtain Relevant Certifications: Additional certifications in this field can provide you with credibility and validate your expertise in the field. These certificates can give you an in-depth understanding of wine regions, varietals and production methods. Additionally, certifications show your dedication to professional excellence.
  6. Expand your Knowledge: To become a professional, you should regularly expand your knowledge. You can do this by attending workshops and seminars. Additionally, you can network with colleagues which can lead to collaborations and opportunities. Furthermore, you should join professional associations. This can enable you to have access to exclusive resources and educational materials.


Skills Required for a Sommelier


  1. Inventory management
  2. A deep interest in wine and broad knowledge of it
  3. Resilience
  4. Wine opening and decanting
  5. Good Accounting skills and budget knowledge
  6. An excellent palate and understanding of cuisine
  7. Upselling and negotiation skills
  8. Storytelling skills
  9. Interpersonal skills and relationship management
  10. Curiosity and a desire to learn
  11. Patience and understanding
  12.  Time management and multitasking abilities


Types of Sommeliers

  1. Wine Director: Wine directors manage the wine programme in restaurants or hotels. They have in-depth knowledge of various areas such as wine regions, vineyards, and winemaking techniques.
  2. Sommelier Educator: Sommelier educators are concerned with wine education as well as instruction. They teach aspiring sommeliers, hospitality professionals, and wine enthusiasts in formal settings such as wine schools or certification programmes. Sommelier educators are experts in wine areas such as grape varieties, winemaking procedures, and blind tasting.
  3. Restaurant Sommelier: These professionals are in charge of the wine programme as well as offering wine service to visitors in restaurants. Restaurant sommeliers frequently have a thorough understanding of food and wine pairing, as well as excellent communication and customer service abilities. 
  4. Wine Consultant: Wine consultants provide expertise and assistance to wine firms, individuals, and organisations. Additionally, they offer advice on wine selection, cellar management, wine lists, and employee training. Furthermore, they help companies improve their wine programmes, increase profitability, and maximise consumer pleasure.
  5. Wine writers or critics: Wine writers and critics are experts in wine reporting and criticism. Wine writers frequently contribute to media such as magazines, newspapers, online publications, and their wine blogs. Additionally, they rate wines, write reviews, and offer information on wine regions, vintages, and winemakers.
  6. Winery sommeliers: Winery sommeliers work for winemakers or vines directly. Additionally, they can contribute to mixing experiments and help with wine advertising and promotion. 
  7. Wine Buyers: Wine buyers choose and purchase wines for retail sale for wine shops, wineries, or wine importers. Additionally, they have a great awareness of market conditions, consumer tastes, and wine pricing. 


Sommelier Schools in Africa

  1. Wine & Dine School of Sommelier, Nigeria
  2. Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  3. Nigerian Wine Academy, Nigeria 
  4. Sommelier Society of Nigerian Institute, Nigeria
  5. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  6. The Wine Master Sommelier School, Nigeria
  7. Wine Academy Nigeria College of Sommeliers, Nigeria
  8. Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, South Africa
  9. Cape Wine Academy, South Africa
  10. South African Sommelier Association, South Africa
  11. Kenya Wine Agency Limited, Kenya


In Conclusion, starting a career as a sommelier requires you to have dedication, passion, and continuous learning required for success. Pursuing a career as a sommelier can be a challenging journey. However, it is immensely rewarding in the long run. To succeed in this career, you must commit to studying areas such as wine regions, grape varieties, and flavour profiles. Additionally, you should build tasting and pairing skills.


Good luck!

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