Wine knowledge is a given. But the presentation of that knowledge is even more important. There can be an intimidation factor when the server asks whether diners want to speak to the sommelier. “What’s made them successful is being able to be approachable and to share that knowledge with staff and guests in a way that’s not intimidating, there are a lot wine snobs out there, and that’s not good for the image of wine. A good approach is that they should want people to drink and enjoy wine.
Like so many other careers in the hospitality industry, a sommelier’s hours can be long. Your day might not start until 2 p.m., when you review your inventory, meet with suppliers and arrange to taste wines. Before the dinner crowd begins to arrive, you get ready for seating's and go over the wine list with your staff. Then you work the floor, seeing to diners’ needs and romancing the wine menu. Your day might not end until 1 or 2 a.m.
Much of the sommeliers work is back of the house.
* Purchase the wine and create the wine list, working closely with the chef to ensure the wines coordinate with the food.
* Suggest to the restaurant owner what to buy, based on menu, price and value.
* Take care of inventory management.
* Handle staff training and management. Since the sommelier is only one person, staff must also be knowledgeable about the entire wine list. That means holding daily or weekly staff briefings before the shift to discuss how to incorporate wines into the entire menu. Trained staff can increase wine sales by 20-30%.
* Train your staff. If there's a wine producer in town with new products, the sommelier will often bring that person to brief the employees.
* Organize staff to visit wineries everywhere possible. You'll want to refresh your own knowledge through special winery tours in Europe and throughout North America.
* Attend tastings and encourage your staff to attend them, too.