We're testing our new mobile-friendly website. Check out the beta version and let us know what you think!
Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I’ve been working in the food and beverage industry for a while, but now want to become a certified sommelier. Where do I begin?
—Agnes, Wilmington, Del.
Thanks for specifying that you want to be a certified sommelier. The job of sommelier doesn’t require any sort of degree—the title indicates a wine steward, a professional who can help you navigate a restaurant’s wine choices and provide wine service. Certification isn’t necessary.
However, to become a certified Master Sommelier is kind of like getting a master’s degree in wine. Fewer than 200 people worldwide have earned this title, which is pretty prestigious, and entitles them to put the initials “M.S.” after their name.
Where do you begin? I’d start by making sure you have some time and money set aside to allow you to do virtually nothing but think about wine for a few months or years. Some courses that can help you reach your goal are offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers, the American Sommelier Association, and the Sommelier Society of America.
The coursework would give you a good sense of what you’re in for, as well give you a chance to find a group of other like-minded people to commiserate and study with. And if you like the idea of tasting wine for homework, anyone from novice to expert is welcome to check out our online courses at Wine Spectator School.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash