Who is a Sommelier? What is Sommelier Certification?

Sommelier in French means “wine waiter”. The word comes from the French expression “sommer le vin” or “to taste the wine”. There are several factors that affect how a wine tastes, like the type of grape, soil conditions, or weather. What is often forgotten is that the most important factor is how you store the wine. Storage in a wine cellar is essential to make sure that the wine ages correctly, so that it develops all its flavors and aromas.

“A wine expert or sommelier is a skilled professional who can identify wines and advise patrons on food pairings and other aspects of wine culture. The term, which means “wine waiter” in French, is often used to describe someone with little or no formal wine training who nevertheless enjoys wine.”


A certification is a way of indicating that someone has a certain level of competency in a certain field. Certifications exist for many things, from IT technicians to medical professionals. The wine and spirits world has certifications for wine judges, sommeliers, and Master Sommeliers. Wine judge certification levels are quite easy to obtain, with the lowest level being Certified Wine Educator (CWE). The CWE is essentially someone who has taken a course on wine tasting. A Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) is someone who has completed the CWE program along with other courses and exams.

Levels of Sommelier Certification

The levels of certification for professional wine tasters and sommeliers are broken into five levels. For Sommelier Certification the first level is the introductory level, which is the level that most people have achieved after taking a few classes. The second level is the certified level, which is obtained through an exam. Level three is the advanced level, which comes with a requirement to complete a practical tasting and work in restaurants or other places for at least a year. Level four is the master sommelier, and level five is the grandmaster sommelier.


What are Sommelier Pins?

The last time someone asked you what wine would go best with dinner, you probably gave them an answer like, “I’m not a sommelier.” That’s right. Wine is a much more complex flavor than most people think. The rules of pairing food and wine are highly influenced by the regions the wine is from and its history. For example, you wouldn’t match a German Riesling with your dinner because it isn’t ideal for the food you’re eating. However, there’s an easy way to figure out which wine goes best with your dinner: Sommelier Pins.

  • The Introductory Sommelier pin holds a red border with a silver interior.
  • The Certified Sommelier pin carries a purple border with a pewter interior.
  • The Advanced Sommelier pin bears a green border with a pewter interior.
  • The Master Sommelier pin harbors a red border with a gold interior.