AskDefine | Define sommelier

Dictionary Definition

sommelier n : a waiter who manages wine service in a hotel or restaurant [syn: wine waiter, wine steward]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • italbrac RP /ˌsɒmˈmɛliə/ or /ˌsɔːməlˈjeɪ/
  • italbrac US /ˌsɔːməlˈjeɪ/
  • Rhymes with: -eɪ


  1. A wine steward. The person at an expensive restaurant who keeps the wine cellar and advises guests on a choice of wines.
    The sommelier recommended the perfect wine, opened the bottle with panáche, and served it perfectly.

Extensive Definition

A sommelier (pronounced /sɔməˈlje/ or suh-mal-'yAy), or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, commonly working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service. The role is more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter.
Their principal work is in the area of wine procurement, storage, and wine cellar rotation. They are also responsible for the development of wine lists and are responsible overall for the delivery of wine service and training for the other restaurant staff. Working along with the culinary team, they pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. It could be argued that the role of a sommelier in fine dining today is strategically on par with that of the executive chef or chef de cuisine. A professional sommelier also works on the floor of the restaurant and is in direct contact with restaurant patrons. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.
In modern times, a sommelier's role is considered much broader than working only with wines, and must encompass all aspects of the restaurant's service, with an enhanced focus on wines, beers, spirits, soft-drinks, cocktails, mineral waters, and tobaccos. Some restaurants will employ a sommelier for water, one for whiskies, one for cigars, and so on.


French, from Middle French, court official charged with transportation of supplies, pack animal driver, from Old Provençal saumalier pack animal driver, from sauma pack animal, load of a pack animal, from Late Latin sagma packsaddle.

Education and certification

The International Sommelier Guild is a provider of sommelier training and certification in North America. The ISG delivers courses in more than 20 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, and two locations in China. The Court of Master Sommeliers is the most internationally recognized organization and certifies professional sommeliers. As of 2008 there are fewer than 160 people in the world who have attained the designation of Master Sommelier. This is up from 100 in 2000.
In the U.S., certification bodies such as the Wines and Spirit Education Trust and educational bodies such as the Wine School of Philadelphia train sommeliers but do not issue a sommelier-specific certification. The Professional Culinary Institute in California trains sommeliers and includes the Court of Master Sommeliers first two exams at the end of their curriculum.
The International Wine Guild is based in Denver, Colorado (USA) and is the only certifying organization whose professional programs are approved through a State Board of Higher Education. This allows for wine professionals to receive a Minor in Wine from Metro State College, also in Denver, CO.
sommelier in Bulgarian: Сомелиер
sommelier in Czech: Sommelier
sommelier in Danish: Sommelier
sommelier in German: Sommelier
sommelier in Estonian: Sommeljee
sommelier in Spanish: Sumiller
sommelier in French: Sommelier
sommelier in Korean: 소믈리에
sommelier in Croatian: Sommelier
sommelier in Italian: Sommelier
sommelier in Macedonian: Сомелиер
sommelier in Dutch: Sommelier
sommelier in Japanese: ソムリエ
sommelier in Norwegian: Vinkelner
sommelier in Portuguese: Sommelier
sommelier in Russian: Сомелье
sommelier in Slovak: Someliér
sommelier in Slovenian: Sommelier
sommelier in Finnish: Sommelier
sommelier in Swedish: Sommelier
sommelier in Ukrainian: Сомельє
sommelier in Chinese: 侍酒師
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