Your sommelier, or ‘somm’ is an important part of any wine journey. Yet, like so many of the French terms associated with wine, unpacking exactly what the sommelier does can be an intimidating experience. Not with Louisvale Wines on hand, however! Here’s everything you wanted to know about this important role in the wine community, made simple.

The celebrity sommelier

With ‘wine culture’ undergoing a bit of a renaissance these days, it’s become something of a ‘celebrity’ status- but what does it even mean? The strict translation of the term is actually ‘wine steward’, and you’re likely to find them uncorking your favourite Louisvale wine in a restaurant or other setting. It’s a term heavily associated with ‘fine dining’, and a lot goes into the role. They have formal training to make them experts in all aspects of wine service, including food pairings and even how to store your wine.

The modern sommelier is typically heavily involved in everything wine-related within the restaurant. They typically have a say in the formation of the wine list, train other staff members in how to handle and present wine, and will even work with the chefs to develop dishes that thoroughly complement the wines being offered. Some will even have good knowledge of the beer and spirits on offer.

Can anyone be a sommelier?

Of course, anyone can train to be a sommelier if they have enough passion for wines! It’s not just a title you can give yourself, however. Most somms have undertaken extensive training in all-things-wine, and it’s also critical that they have a passion for wine unlike any other. Expect to spend a lot of time developing a sophisticated wine palate, and a little time studying too.

It may sound like a somm is a pretentious know-it-all, but the truth is far from it. The key role of the sommelier is to bring forth the diner’s confidence, help them clarify the muddy waters of choice, and guide them to exciting finds on the wine list that will match their budget and give them the taste experience they will enjoy. Wine lists can, after all, be confusing affairs (opt for your Louisvale favourites, of course)! We tend to play it safe, picking the same two or three wines over and over again. A qualified, approachable sommelier is there to help you venture out into the wider wine world safely and knowledgeably.

Local is lekker

Only a decade or two ago, you didn’t need a sommelier to tell you about South African wines, but the landscape has evolved rapidly. Today, South African wines even hold critical acclaim overseas, and the dizzying variety open to you can be intimidating to navigate. However, with a well-trained local sommelier at your side, you’ll not only be able to find the right local wine for your taste buds, but you’ll also be armed with all the information you need to position local wines on the international wine landscape.

A sommelier is a key part of exploring the Art of Chardonnay, as well as other wines, in South Africa, and it can be a booming career for the right person, too. Whether you want to try your hand at becoming a knowledgeable sommelier, or simply to enjoy their vast database of knowledge, it’s a role that compliments any wine drinker’s palate. Why not come meet the trained team at Louisvale to experience passionate and knowledgeable staff.