Wine tasting

What is the difference between a sommelier and an oenologist ?

sommelier oenologue

The professions linked to the world of wine are numerous but there are two professions in wine, often confused: those of sommelier and oenologist. To help you differentiate them, we called on two important people from the dVine team: Laurent Derhé, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Sommelier and our oenologist, Béatrice Dominé.

Can you please introduce your profession ?

Laurent Derhé : The sommelier is responsible for the wine in a restaurant, in charge of the selection, the management of the cellar without forgetting the service to the customer.

Béatrice Dominé : The oenologist is the one who makes the wine. He (or she ?) is responsible for the wine-making process in a winery or, in smaller structures, for the viticulture and the marketing.

Which studies are better suited to carry out this profession? What is your background?

LD : It is above all a job within the hospitality industry. It is therefore preferable to get a hospitality qualification, complemented by a specialisation in sommellerie for another year or two. For my part, I obtained a diploma in Hospitality at the school of Thonon les Bains and a specialisation in Sommellerie at Tain l’Hermitage.

BD : There is a big focus on Science. It usually starts with a Science Baccalauréat followed by either a Higher National Diploma Viti-Oeno, for two years to be finished with the National Diploma of Oenologist (DNO), also two years, or, a Chemistry/Biochemistry degree, followed by the DNO.

I personally chose a Science Baccalauréat followed by 2 years studying Maths-Physics-Chemistry at Uni to finally finish by a third year doing chemistry. I did these three years at the University Pierre and Marie Curie or Paris VI. Then I went to Toulouse for two years to do my DNO.

What is the place of wine in your job? What does it mean for you?

LD : Wine is ever-present in my restaurant. It is an important revenue driver but above all, a way to exchange and share with my customers on a daily basis.

BD : Wine is an essential part of my professional life. I had various roles but always within the wine industry: wine merchant, buyer and sales representative both in the UK, head of a training centre in Nantes, I even owned my own restaurant. Now here I am, back at D-Vine, in a role that brings me closer to my core business. Wine is a passion, I can’t imagine a good meal without a good wine. It is a major element of the French gastronomy and a meeting point between epicureans.

Where do your colleagues usually work? What about you?

LD : Sommeliers can work in all types of restaurants, from the wine bar to the Michelin Star restaurant. Some took their careers to different directions in order to become wine merchants, sales representatives, or even teachers.

I currently run a hotel-restaurant and at the same time I run a business specialised in consulting, animation and training – it’s all about the wine. One of my roles is therefore to work with and advise  winemakers, the Paul Bocuse Institute and I also take part in international training.

BD : Most of the oenologists work in wineries. Some have gone to work in analytical labs or into teaching and some do consulting. I currently work full time for D-Vine. Even though I have been involved since the beginning of the adventure, I was also running my restaurant until last year.

Under what circumstances do sommeliers and oenologists work together?

LD : They can work together awarding medals during wine competitions for example, or on tasting training courses, where their skills complement each other.

BD : During a wine selection process, during competitions or when working for a company like D-Vine. It’s a real plus to have the opinion of a MOF sommelier (French worker of the Year in sommellerie) such as Laurent whom I can exchange with.

What is your role within dVine?

LD : My role is to bring my knowledge and my network to help with the selection, all under the direction of Béatrice.

BD : I am responsible for the wine selection. I get in touch with winemakers, do comparative tastings and quality tests. I work closely with the marketing team to produce content on the selected wines. I also do all the in-house wine training for our sales team. My role is quite transversal within D-Vine and I can be working with many services such as the supply chain, technical aspects related to the D-Vine and more.

To learn more

Discover the everyday life of a wine maker with the portrait of Amélie Neau. Her experience, her work and her wines, this way! Meet Amélie Neau from Domaine de Nerleux