International Sommelier Day came on June 3, and we hope you had a chance to toast our fine profession! This year’s fete was especially notable as it marked 50 years to the day since the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale was first founded in Reims, France – June 3, 1969!
Such historical milestones are always good occasions to reflect on the long history of our trade. In medieval times and before, the sommelier was not associated closely with wine, but rather with cargo transported by pack animals. The modern sense of the sommelier as a wine steward arose in the late 18th century after the first public restaurants were opened in Paris. As this industry thrived, specialists were needed to ensure that restaurants had a proper supply of wine in their cellars – first in barrels and only much later in bottles.
Today the OIV defines a sommelier as a professional from the vitivinicultural and catering sectors (restaurants, wine bars) wineries or other distribution channels who recommends and serves beverages at a professional level. It is stipulated that the sommelier must complete a training course that leads to a university qualification or other certification. To this end the ASI introduced the International Sommelier diploma in 2012 to harmonize the basis of knowledge for sommeliers worldwide.
A good reminder of where we’ve been, and where we’re going!