How can I become a sommelier?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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.

Dear Agnes,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

Dining Out Sommelier Service Education Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it true that you can clean a red wine stain with white wine? What's the best way to clean a wine stain?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tried and true methods and advice for …

Jun 17, 2019

How long will an unopened bottle of Champagne stay good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how sparkling wine ages.

Jun 14, 2019

Are sulfites added to wines for shipping?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sulfites come from, and why wines often …

Jun 12, 2019

When is the best time to drink Port?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which types of Ports are best served after a …

Jun 10, 2019

Is a 93-point wine from a good vintage the same quality as a 93-point wine from a poor vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how vintage is and is not considered when rating …

Jun 7, 2019

What is a wine’s "style"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the broad styles, or types, of wine, and what it …

Jun 5, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search