Private bartending services like The Bartender Company of the San Francisco Bay Area have always hired talented personnel to provide event guests with impeccable service. As consumer tastes have evolved, so has the professional bartending industry. Where bartenders once were sufficient, now the services of highly-trained mixologists are in demand.
The same applies with wines. Private bartending companies now seek the expertise of advanced sommeliers to give guests an enhanced drinking experience. Formerly reserved only for the finest restaurants, these wine experts can now be found in a variety of settings and roles.
In this guide, we will introduce sommeliers, explain what they do and how they are trained, and illustrate why their skills have become so sought-after by upscale event hosts.
What is a sommelier?
The sommelier is a knowledgeable and highly-trained professional who focuses on wines, including varietals (types), service, and pairings. These professionals are sometimes known as “wine stewards”. While anyone can claim to be a sommelier, the process of becoming a professionally-certified sommelier is a rigorous one; there are specialized educational facilities and professional guilds found around the world.
Someone training to become a certified sommelier will complete training programs, formal education, examinations, and gain real-world experience before finishing the certification process. Advanced sommelier certification requires years of study and practice. A sommelier may be tasked with a range of duties in restaurants, wine retailers, or private bartending service companies. These duties may include:
- Delivery of wine service
- Training of staff members
- Development of wine lists and books
- Selecting wine pairings by working with culinary teams
- Preparing and maintaining appropriate storage and handling protocols for wine collections
Certified sommeliers are often members of professional organizations, typically found in the wine-producing regions of the world. There are several such organizations, each providing social protection, educational opportunities, and official recognition for its members. Some of the most prominent global sommelier organizations include:
- Union de la Sommelliere Francaise (France)
- Associazione Italiana Sommelier (Italy)
- Court of Master Sommeliers (Great Britain)
- International Wine & Spirits Guild (United States)
- Commission of European Sommeliers (Bulgaria/Eastern Europe)
How does a sommelier fit into professional bartending?
For private bartending services like The Bartender Company, sommeliers perform vital roles at corporate events and parties like wedding receptions, birthdays, and holiday gatherings. Not all special events require bartenders; in fact, bartending service providers are often selected to help deliver wine tastings or to curate wine pairings for such events.
A sommelier’s experience is invaluable in these events. The training and experience sommeliers gain as a part of their education allows them to select wines that go perfectly with food menus. Wine tastings focusing on regional grape varietals or vintages are incredibly popular, and these upscale events have become highly desired by restaurants and drinking establishments all over the world. Not all such restaurants and taverns have their own sommeliers on staff to deliver this specialized service, so those organizations reach out to The Bartender Company for help.
To conclude, sommeliers are skilled professionals with many years of training and experience. With their help, wine tastings and wine service delivery add a luxurious touch to any special event.