There are many great jobs in the drinks and hospitality sector and probably as many routes into them. Let me explain just one. I am an Italian Sommelier.
This does not mean I am Italian, live in Italy or speak Italian. No. Nor does it mean I can only pair and explain Italian Wines. These are the two questions I get asked most, so it seemed easiest to decry them immediately.
Pairing: Drink + Food
An Italian Sommelier pairs foods to drinks by a method created by the Associazione Italiano Sommelier, [AIS]. There are three different methods of pairing, Anglo-Saxon/English; French and Italian. That is what makes an Italian Sommelier in Italian Sommelier.
You might have noticed I said paired drinks with food not just wine. This is because the skills learned are about the matching of the correct drink to the food. Sometimes this maybe wine, but quite often as a meal develops you move into sprits with deserts and liqueurs with chocolates etc.
Sommelier in the UK
The course that is offered here in the UK is a five month intensive diploma certificate, verified by the AIS, and accepted worldwide as a benchmark qualification as a sommelier. Inside the M25 region the course is offered by the UK Sommelier Association. Outside the M25 the course is being developed by the UK Midlands Area Sommelier Association.
This course is unique to the UK. Training to become a sommelier can take a process of years. You have to find the three courses needed, at a venue close to you and occurring in the correct order for you to complete. If you are fortunate it can be completed within two years.
The course in details
The AIS UK course compacts these three courses into one five month long, 18 weekly session, course. It has been designed to fit into the different work/study schedule that favours study in the UK.
You get to discover what a sommelier does and what special up-selling skills they bring to restaurants and why they are so desired within the industry. The story of how grapes make their journey into wine is covered as are, in depth, the major wine growing region of the world, the grapes grown and wines produced.
Sparkling wines, spirits, fortified, beers, liqueurs are also covered in their production and styles and history. As the course develops you learn how to judge wines on their appearance, scents, flavours and tastes.
Finally you are able to understand how to use the methods devised by the Italian Sommelier Association to successfully pair food and drink together to make the combination of the parts greater than the individual components.
The course is exam based. The first written exam is taken in English in the UK and sent over to Italy for marking. All the exams are marked in Italy to ensure standardisation of marker consistency. If you achieve more than 60% in the written exam you are invited to take part in the second oral test.
For this you are interviewed by the President of the AIS. He speaks to you about your exam and answers you gave and then asks you to describe to him a wine in front of you.
You do get to choose the wine, but only a choice of two only known that day! He completes by informing you of his decision; pass or fail. There and then. As he is the only person who interviews all second candidates the quality of passed candidates is known to be consistently high across the world.
There is no easier country to do the exam in!
Restaurants and hotels always are approaching the UK sommelier associations to ask for candidates while the course is running. Candidates get approached for interview often whilst completing the course. Hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, there are sommelier positions all across the globe.
Discover how to pair perfectly.
Five months is very intensive, but during the course you will taste over 100 wines and spirits, all the books you need for the course are provided and every four hour lecture is delivered by a highly qualified Master of Wine of Professional Sommelier, or other fully qualified expert.
All the tutors are chosen for their expertise. You will even get the opportunity to visit our partner vineyard and get to see the full behind the scenes tour, as you area partner student. There is even the chance to help out at different times of the year.
The course is also open to people who just want to undertake study of the world of food and drink pairing. You don’t have to be already working in the hospitality sector to take on a place. It’s a fully inclusive course, designed for the UK, and validated by the world’s oldest professional sommelier association.