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Becoming an In-House Sommelier: 5 Key Tips for Sommeliers

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Becoming an in-house sommelier is the goal of many wine lovers who make the career move of becoming a sommelier. A sommelier or wine certification, of any level, is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. If you’re looking into becoming an in-house sommelier, you’ll add to that accomplishment by working with wine in the hospitality industry

When it comes to becoming an in-house sommelier, you could work in:

… and so many more places where wine is enjoyed! This BinWise blog is the place to start the job search. We’ll talk about sommeliers in general. If you’re still studying or looking into being a sommelier–or a Master Sommelier–this will get you started. If you’re ready for finding work after the sommelier exam, this is the place for you too!

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What Is a Sommelier? 

So, what is a sommelier? The dictionary defines a sommelier as a wine steward. It can also mean wine waiter, depending on the translation from the original French. A sommelier is someone who has studied wine extensively. They work in the industry to help a bar, restaurant, or other hospitality business manage their wine and help customers. 

A sommelier works to help businesses organize and maintain their wine collections. They also make wine recommendations, from an order management perspective, and from a client perspective. Sommeliers, in fine-dining restaurants, often serve as the waiter when it comes to wine. They ensure the customer gets the wine they want.

What Is Sommelier Work?

Sommelier work changes depending on the line of work you go into as a sommelier. You can work in the service industry, the wine industry behind the scenes, or you can keep leaning into education around wine. 

If you’re working in the service industry, your work will revolve around helping customers in the restaurant, bar, or other establishment you work at. If you work at a wine bar, you’ll work closely with the wine bar manager to keep the wine collection in order. You may even end up opening a wine bar and managing it yourself. 

For working in the wine industry behind the scenes, you’ll likely end up working at a winery. From the best wineries to the best U.S. wineries, there are many options. You’ll work with different varieties of wine, and you’ll help out in the winery tasting room

If you go the route of continuing with wine education, your options are less clear but quite open. You could be an educator for other future sommeliers. You could work within a sommelier guild. Heck, you could even become an adjunct professor for a winemaking program at a college. 

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5 Key Tips for Becoming an In-House Sommelier

Becoming an in-house sommelier may be your end goal, but there is plenty of work and experience you can get before reaching that milestone. These five key tips for becoming an in-house sommelier are a mix of experiences to seek out on your way to that career goal.

5. Build Your Resume

Building your resume is a basic for becoming an in-house sommelier. You can build it up with work experience and certifications. You can also do side work in the wine industry, to have a portfolio–perhaps including writing about wine–to show potential employers.

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4. Work at Wineries

Working at a winery is a great way to gain wine experience. You may even find yourself staying there and working as the in-house sommelier of the winery. You can help with winery weddings, learn how to host a tasting party, and work with wine from the start of the production process.

3. Keep Certifications Current

For many wine certifications, you don’t need to update them. Once you have the certification, you’re set for life. That said, depending on your certification you may need to update it every few years. Keep this in mind, to stay current and employable. 

2. Gain Restaurant Experience

For many sommeliers, restaurants are the places they search for to become an in-house sommelier. If you’re working toward a job as a sommelier, restaurant experience as a server or host will help. 

1. Network In the Wine World

For a sommelier job, networking in the wine world is crucial. Meet other sommeliers. Reach out to restaurant and bar owners. Attend conferences. Any networking you can do will help you along the way.

"Key Takeaway: Becoming an in-house sommelier can take time and a great deal of wine experience. When you go after it, however, and find the work you want to do in the wine industry, it is incredibly satisfying."

Frequently Asked Questions About Being an In-House Sommelier

There are plenty of questions floating around the internet about being a sommelier and becoming an in-house sommelier. If you’re a sommelier looking for work, or you’re interested in wine industry work in general, read on to keep learning. 

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How Much Do Sommeliers Make?

Sommeliers can make between $40,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on their certification level. A level one sommelier makes between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. For a second level, between $60,000 and $70,000 is standard. For a third-level sommelier, $70,000 to $80,000 can be expected. A fourth-level or Master Sommelier can expect to earn $150,000 a year.

What Is the Average Age of a Sommelier?

The average age of a sommelier rests between 20 and 30 years of age. That age range represents about 48% of the population. It is between those ages when most folks figure out what they want to do with their life. It makes sense that, when a wine lover decides to become a sommelier, that’s when they go through the process. 

Is Being a Sommelier Stressful?

Yes, being a sommelier can be a very stressful job. There are perks to it, one of which is that you get to work directly with wine. That’s likely the reason you chose to become a sommelier in the first place. That said, the wine program at your place of work is firmly within your hands. It can be a demanding experience, with long hours and lots of work, but it’s worth it. 

What Do Sommeliers Do Day-to-Day?

On a day-to-day basis, sommeliers manage the wine program, maintain ordering for wine, and keep customers satisfied. They’ll spend time accepting wine deliveries and keeping the wine cellar in working order. They will also prepare wines for the evening. They’ll update out-of-stock wines with the 86 definition, and keep the wine program ready to serve guests. 

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In-House Sommeliers: Finding Your Wine House 

Becoming an in-house sommelier can take time and a great deal of wine experience. When you go after it, however, and find the work you want to do in the wine industry, it is incredibly satisfying. Working with wine, and helping more people enjoy the nuances of great wine, is fulfilling work in general, but especially for sommeliers.

If you’re working as a sommelier, and you’re looking for the right beverage inventory for your wine program, reach out to BinWise. The BinWise Pro inventory program, paired with the BinScan mobile app, gives you peace of mind while you take inventory. You can pair BinWise with BlueCart’s order management software to ease your order management system

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