Sommelier: job description

Sommelier - Job Description

Wine, Sake, Tea… Matthieu Longuere tells us more on how to succeed as a Sommelier – a position that requires a highly-skilled and talented professional.


Also known as a wine waiter, sommeliers posses in-depth knowledge and have a great understanding of wine, of which their mastery can be put to good use in a variety of settings. Originally, sommeliers worked in hotels and restaurant wine cellars where they would consult with chefs to decide the best pairing of wines and dishes.

Most commonly described as a restaurant professional working with wines, the term sommelier is also used by extension for sake, water or tea. In this article we will focus on wine, but the information can also be applied to all other types of drinks.

Duties and Responsibilities

Whether he or she works in a fine dining establishment or in a more casual restaurant, the list of duties will be similar and comprehensive.

His or her key role is to be able to advise the patrons according to their personal needs i.e. it can be related to their taste, the food and wine pairing, the occasion or the budget.

While considering the clientele and the food served, the sommelier’s responsibilities also consist of selecting wines, creating drink lists and managing stock. The sommelier has to build and maintain a wine list fitting the establishment he or she works for: right price, products, presentations, easy to use.

Tips: I would always advise to try to collect as many drink lists as possible. When you see one, take it home and study it. Remember, the smallest ones are the most difficult to create, so don’t discard them. 

Furthermore, sommeliers are in charge for training on wine and other beverages by conducting tastings. The sommelier needs to be able to pass on knowledge and train the other staff: the chef de rang and commis should provide a perfect practice ground.


A sommelier has to have knowledge of how wine is supposed to taste, using his or her expertise and education about  grape varieties or regions along with harvest times, climates, soils and the overall winemaking processes. This in-depth understanding helps the sommelier to answer a vast number of questions from patrons as well as industry partners.

His or her job may also require some travelling that will broaden and deepen their understanding of winemaking processes. While discussing wine with clients, it is always nice to be able to tell a few anecdotes about the vineyard or the winemaker.

To keep up to date with the wine trends, he or she is also expected to regularly attend formal wine tastings, trade fairs and shows.


Main Skills

  • Knowledgeable: As an educator and sales person, the sommelier must have an extensive knowledge of wine
  • Communication: At the heart of the establishment’s operation he or she needs to be able to communicate with the staff, management, suppliers and the clientele. The sommelier needs to be quick to react to customer’s complaints and unusual service situations
  • Approachable: He or she should be approachable and able to share his or her knowledge with the staff and guests in a confident and professional manner
  • Sales oriented: He or she must be able to recommend wines to patrons and improve profits in order to meet financial targets


A sommelier can earn up to £35,000 - £40,000 in some establishments, but he or she must be highly experienced and knowledgeable. Entry-level sommeliers typically earn £15,000 - £20, 000 per year, according to


What is a typical day for a sommelier?

No two days feel the same.

Like so many other careers in the hospitality industry, a sommelier’s hours can be long with early starts and late finishes.

His or her time will be shared between the actual work on the floor as a key member of the front of house team and the management of your wine list.

The morning will usually be dedicated to the wine list, stock management and looking after the deliveries. In the afternoon, this is where he or she has the time to meet with suppliers as well as go to tastings – searching for the next wines to be included in the list.

As sommelier I was always looking for interesting new wine as I used to change around 40 references a month and I was always planning ahead.

Finally in the evening, he or she would split his or her time between his or her shift in the restaurant and the orders for the following day. Storage space is often a challenge so he or she needs to juggle between the quantity ordered and the capacity to store.

Overseen by Matthieu Longuere MS, the Diploma in Wine Gastronomy and Management has been designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the wine and spirits industry at international level.


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