A Nose for Wine: all you Need to Know about Sommeliers

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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

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This article has been published by RTE for RTE Brainstorm


The longstanding image of sommeliers is one of older men, who dress formally and have a reputation for being arrogant. They know infinitely more than the customer, scoff at wine ignorance and always try to force expensive wines upon terrified patrons. Much like the "angry chef" and "fearsome restaurant critic" caricatures, the sommelier has been misunderstood and pigeonholed. The modern sommelier is the antithesis of this tired caricature.

Sommeliers are a particular entity within the broader hospitality industry. Their line of expertise is both complex and sophisticated yet simultaneously related to wine, something many people enjoy and have an interest in. Enlightened restaurateurs now know that having a dedicated wine expert on their staff adds enormous value to their product and that the position is equal to that of the head chef. While getting official qualifications and winning awards is important for many sommeliers, it is not as essential as having a passion for their work. Maintaining a humble attitude and learning every day is fundamental to success.