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Sipping along

education Updated: Jul 23, 2013 17:30 IST

Hindustan Times
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The lowdown

A wine expert is a highly trained and knowledgeable wine ­professional who specialises in all aspects of wine service, from advising diners on what wines would go best with certain foods to the nitty-gritty of procurement, managing ­inventory flow, creating wine lists for food and beverage ­establishments, ­mentoring, etc. The job requires a blend of ­hospitality skills and in-depth knowledge of wines — grape varieties, regions, ­vintages, vineyards, how to taste wine, etc. Depending on ­personal skills, sommeliers can join the wine trade, work in wine production, in the import and export of wine, consulting and advising, wine education, training, wine writing etc. The Indian hospitality industry has a paucity of sommeliers. With new wineries opening up fast and new hotels placing their produce rapidly, the demand for a qualified and well-equipped ­sommelier is almost inevitable. The hospitality industry is not the only avenue. Wine-import companies, marketing offices of wine houses, working as a consultant to the smaller restaurants, ­wineries, embassies etc are some other options

7am: Breakfast
10am: Check stocks, receive new wines, conduct tasting and ­prepare tasting notes
12pm: Do inventory checks. Conduct training ­sessions
2pm: Look after service during lunch hour
7pm: Look after service during dinner
11.30pm: Time to call it a day

The ­payoff
Owing to the variety of sectors, wine tasters can offer their ­services in hotels, restaurants, import-export companies, or even as independent consultant, thus the payoff varies immensely. In food and beverage ­establishments, a junior ­wine expert can get Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month. A senior person can get Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 per month. Those who work independently as wine ­consultants can earn anything between Rs. 25,000 to a couple of lakhs per month

* In addition to extensive ­knowledge of wine, wine ­tasters should have excellent interpersonal skills
* Good communication skills enable you to interact well with chefs and vineyard owners to distributors and customers
* Knowledge of one or more ­foreign languages can be ­helpful, particularly languages of major wine growing regions such as French or Italian
* Management abilities to ­oversee the staff

Getting there
A good hotel management degree focusing on wine with on-the-job training or a certified course from a well respected organisation are adequate as long as you have a strong interest in the subject and the desire to learn. A certified sommelier qualification from a reputed institute is an added asset. A sommelier certification offers practical training in wine service and tasting as well as knowledge about wine regions, winemaking and viticultural ­practices, etc

Institutes and URLs
* Court of Master Sommeliers, United States and United Kingdom;,
* International Wine Guild, Denver, United States;
* Institute of Masters of Wine, London;

Pros and cons
* An aspirant must consider the costs involved in trainings
* Potential of being part of one of the sunrise industries in India
* One can start one’s own ­business like consultancy, wine import-export business

A wine expert plays a key role in increasing general awareness and providing the required knowledge of wines. Maintaining work-life balance is important ---- Sovna Puri, head-tastings and training, Sula Vineyards, Mumbai