Check out the new, mobile-friendly!

ask dr. vinny

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 love wine and everything that relates to it. I am seriously starting to think about a career change and was wondering how difficult it would be to obtain a sommelier degree.

—Kate, San Diego, Calif.

Dear Kate,

It depends on how far you want to go. Many sommeliers learned on the job, starting out in other restaurant positions. Master sommelier Larry Stone says the road to becoming a sommelier involves reading as many books and tasting as many wines—preferably with a group—as possible, both things you can organize on your own. (Online subscribers can see his guest blog on how to become a sommelier.)

For a more formal structure, there are many courses you can take to hone your knowledge of wine, including some specifically targeted at sommeliers, such as those offered around the country by the American chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers ( and the Sommelier Society of America's 20-week certificate course in New York ( Check our Wine Course Directory for classes available near you. Wine Spectator School also offers an online course called Understanding Professional Wine Sales and Service.

Good luck!

—Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for Members

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.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Job Opportunities

Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories