Catering professionals

What makes a good sommelier?

Bon sommelier qui sert un verre de vin rouge dans un restaurant

The profession of sommelier is one of the key professions in the world of wine. Working mainly in catering, the sommelier is in charge of the restaurant’s cellar and its profitability. And also the selection of wines that will sublimate the dishes as well as room service.But what makes a good sommelier? What are the skills and qualities required to excel in this job? In this article, we will discuss the different facets of the sommelier profession.

Technical skills, essential for a good sommelier

The tasting

To exercise his profession with excellence, a good sommelier must have a set of technical skills.

First, it must have ain-depth knowledge of the different types of wine and their production process. Will be added to this knowledge, all the learning of wine regions around the world. But also grape varieties, vintages and different styles of wine.

In addition, a good sommelier must be able evaluate and describe the quality of a wine using professional tasting techniques and appropriate vocabulary.

We can take the example of Xavier Thuizat, who during the final of the championships of best worker in Sommellerie, had to describe a glass of white wine after having smelled and tasted it:

A glass of white wine of great elegance, great freshness, great purity, it would remind me of a Pinot Noir because of its aromatic intensity. Probably a Champagne wine, from the Marne Valley.  

Thus, he will be able to recognize this wine thanks to whathe observes from the dress, what he smells on the nose and again what is revealed in the mouth. If you want to familiarize yourself with this language, discover our article “The vocabulary of wine: the terms of tasting”.

The board

Beyond tasting, he must also be able to recommend appropriate wines to accompany different types of dishes, using his knowledge of wine and food pairings. Thus, he will be able to propose a food and wine pairing based on what you feel like eating, to provide you with the perfect taste experience.


Nevertheless, a good sommelier is not just about tasting, learning and recommending wines. He must also be able to effectively manage a wine cellar, ensuring that the wines are stored in optimal conditions and that they are in constant rotation to guarantee their freshness.

 The sommelier must therefore work as a team with chefs and service staff to guarantee an exceptional customer experience, while ensuring good stock management. He must therefore be able to manage wine orders and stocks, sales and finally the profitability of the wine cellar.

The personal qualities of a good sommelier

In addition to technical skills, a good sommelier must havepersonal qualities that set him apart from other professionals. First of all, it must bepatient and able to communicate effectively with customers.

Indeed, it is important that he takes his time in order to quickly identify what customers like or dislike. And what they want to discover through their glass of wine.

The aim is to provide areal service and tasting experience to the client, the sommelier will essentially have to be empathetic to successfully put him at ease and really and quickly understand his expectations.

Obviously, Passion for wine is also an essential quality for a sommelier. A passionate person is a person who will succeed in making each tasting an unforgettable moment for his customers. This quality is a vector of motivation and will allow a good sommelier to excel in his profession.

What is an excellent sommelier?

To be a good sommelier, you need indeed to have solid technical skills, as well as personal qualities such as patience, empathy, passion and curiosity. By combining these skills and qualities, a sommelier will be able to offer an exceptional service and tasting experience to its customers.

To find out more  

Are you still unsure about the difference between a sommelier and an oenologist? We’ll help you find out in our article “What’s the difference between a sommelier and an oenologist?