Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



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

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Are you considered a "sommelier" if you serve wine at a restaurant? Or do you have to take classes and be certified to claim the title?

—Taylor, Hays, Kan.

Dear Taylor,

Sommelier is a job title for a restaurant professional that helps you navigate a restaurant’s wine choices and provides wine service, sometimes also called a wine steward. A somm doesn’t just open wine and pour it; they are intimately familiar with the restaurant's wine program and should be able to guide diners in making wine selections and provide additional information about the wines on the list.

At most restaurants, this job title does not require a degree or certification, but there are many formal training programs, the most prestigious of which is the Master Sommelier certification.

Job requirements will vary from restaurant to restaurant, of course, but you’d almost certainly need previous restaurant experience and knowledge of wine. Some learn through rigorous tasting practice or travel. The various professional exams or certifications will show commitment, but they aren't required to be a good sommelier. The best ones I’ve ever met have both a practical and theoretical understanding of wine, and are passionate about what they do.

—Dr. Vinny

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 WineSpectator.com 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


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.