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Sommelier Certification: Is it worth the HYPE?


Within the last 10 years or so, the amount of people become Sommelier Certified has drastically sky rocketed. After a recent and extremely successful Documentary SOMM (short for Sommelier),  which follows four men in their quest to earn the designation of Master Sommelier — a distinction held by only 201 very serious people — after a grueling three-part multi-day test. I have to admit I have watched SOMM at least 50 times. In face after watching SOMM at the San Luis Obispo Film Festival in 2013 that I decided that the Sommelier profession was something I might be interested in pursuing. I was unfamiliar with what the profession entailed or how hard certification is to attain. I was some what ignorant to the process needed to become a Somm and after watching the documentary I was under the impression that to be called a Sommelier, one would have to pass a series of test administered by one of many organizations.

Recently, after browsing through my Facebook wall I came across an article entitled, ” The Myth of Sommelier Certification, Debunked” this article pretty much is bias and anti certification. The aurthor Carson Demmond, alludes that a person does not need some piece of paper or fancy pin show that he/she has passed  a Somm test. Demmond says, that many of the best Wine Directors in the world are not Somm and that becoming certified is not a necessary route to being called a Sommelier. After reading this article I think that the Author is right in some regards. However,  the author made some really interesting points  about the validity of whether or not someone needs to have a certification to be a Sommelier. Of course it’s true, absolutely they do not. Perhaps the problem doesn’t have to do with how much knowledge a sommelier has on a topic of wine, but how much she or he is able to provide the best possible experience for a guest. A certification is merely a means for an employer to determine if that person is motivated enough to take an active effort to self-improvement. It is a benchmark that someone knows the basics. Of course anyone can know this information without a stamp of approval, but how do they convince an employer?

This article has caused some back lash from the Sommelier community and I plan on reporting more as more info comes in.