Written By Alper Billik
If you are curious about becoming a sommelier or are already working as one, then you probably want to know how much money you can expect.
The average salary for a wine sommelier is $48,000 per year. However, there is a lot of wage variation for sommeliers depending on their experience and location.
In this blog post, we will discuss the average salary of a sommelier and what factors can affect their salary. We will also provide tips for aspiring sommeliers who want to make more money in this exciting field!
Many factors can affect how much money a sommelier makes. One of the most important factors is experience. Generally, the more experience a sommelier has, the higher their salary will be. Another important factor is location. Sommeliers who work in large cities or upscale restaurants tend to make more money than those who work in smaller towns or less expensive restaurants.
So how can you make more money as a sommelier? One of the best ways is to gain more experience. You can do this by working in different restaurants or taking on additional responsibilities at your current job. Another great way to make more money is to move to a larger city or a more upscale restaurant. This will give you access to higher-paying jobs and network with other sommeliers who can help you further your career.
Break down wine sommelier salaries by experience level
Entry-level sommeliers can expect to earn around $30,000 to $40,000 annually. They will typically be working in a team. They will assist more experienced staff members when necessary while learning about all facets of the job from more experienced colleagues.
Mid-level sommeliers can make between $50,000 and $70,000 per year. They will have more experience and responsibilities than entry-level sommeliers, such as organizing tastings and other events related to wine education, providing assistance with stocktaking activities, and providing direct support to guests and team members when needed.
Senior sommeliers can make between $70,000 and $100,000 per year. They will typically be responsible for managing the restaurant's inventory and will attend daily briefings to update the team on wine. They will work closely with the head and assistant head sommelier to maintain day-to-day operations within the restaurant or hotel.
Head sommeliers or Wine Directors can make between $100,000 to $150,000 per year. They are responsible for the overall management of the wine program, including the selection and acquisition of wines, developing and implementing wine education programs, and managing the wine service team.
Wine Director Salary
A wine director's salary is the annual financial compensation of a wine director, who is typically responsible for overseeing the wine-related offerings of restaurants, hotels, and wine clubs. The salary of wine directors depends on various factors, such as the scope and size of their operations, their experience in wine selection and management, and the current market demand for wine directors. Factors such as geographical market size can also make a difference in wine director salaries, with larger markets providing more competitive wages than smaller towns or cities. Generally speaking, wine directors can command an excellent salary, and those who possess finely tuned skills in wine selection can often earn handsome bonuses and other sources of income beyond their regular salary.
Please remember that these ranges are rough estimates and that actual salaries can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as location, type of establishment, level of experience, and education. Some sommeliers may receive additional compensation through tips, bonuses, or other incentives. It's also important to note that the cost of living and location can greatly affect the salary range.
Comparison of sommelier salary with other hospitality positions
Generally, a sommelier's salary can be higher than other hospitality industry positions, such as servers and bartenders. Sommeliers often hold specialized knowledge and skills related to wine, and they may be responsible for managing a restaurant's wine inventory and creating wine lists. As a result, they may earn a higher salary than servers and bartenders.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a sommelier in the United States is around $52.355 annually. On the other hand, the average hourly wage for a server in the United States is around $5.00 - $15.00 per hour, and for bartenders is around $9.00 - $15.00 per hour.
Restaurant managers of course earn a higher salary than servers or bartenders, with an average salary of around $48,000 per year, but still below the average salary for a sommelier.
It is worth noting that the earning potential for sommeliers can vary widely depending on factors such as location, size, and prestige of the restaurant or establishment they work in. A sommelier at a high-end restaurant in a major city may earn significantly more than a lower-end establishment. Additionally, a sommelier with a great reputation, experience, and many certifications may earn more.
In summary, sommeliers typically earn more than servers, bartenders, and even some restaurant managers, due to the specialized nature of their role and the knowledge and skills they possess.
Hospitality Industry: Sommelier Income
The hospitality business is incredibly varied and can offer excellent career opportunities for people with the right skill set. One of the most desirable hospitality careers is that of a sommelier specializing in wine knowledge and tasting. Sommeliers' salaries range significantly depending on various factors, including the size of their hospitality establishment and the market they operate in; however, it is generally believed that those working in larger cities and establishments make more than their rural counterparts. Although it might be difficult to determine your exact salary as a sommelier, you can rest assured knowing you will have taken on an exciting and respected hospitality industry position.
Sommelier salary benefits
In addition to a salary, sommeliers may also receive additional compensation such as tips, bonuses, or other incentives.
Like servers and bartenders, sommeliers may also receive guest tips. These tips can be significant, particularly in high-end restaurants where guests may be more generous.
Sommeliers may also receive bonuses based on the sales of wine in the restaurant. They may earn a commission on the sales of wine they have recommended or selected for the restaurant's wine list. Additionally, they may earn a performance-based bonus based on the sales or profit margin of the wine program.
Sommeliers may also receive health insurance, 401k, and paid time off. They may also have access to discounts on products and services such as wine, training, and education.
Some restaurants may offer incentives for sommeliers who achieve certain milestones or certifications. For example, a sommelier who successfully completes a wine certification program may receive a bonus or a raise. Additionally, some restaurants may offer incentives for sommeliers who win awards or competitions.
It's worth noting that these benefits and incentives can vary widely depending on the establishment they work in. Some restaurants may offer more benefits and incentives than others.
In summary, sommeliers may receive additional compensation such as tips, bonuses, benefits, and incentives in addition to their salary. These additional forms of compensation can be significant and help increase their earning potential.
Regional variations in sommelier salary
As we mentioned, Sommelier salaries can vary significantly depending on the region of the country or world. Factors such as cost of living, competition, and demand for sommeliers can all affect the earning potential of a sommelier in a particular area.
In the United States, sommelier salaries tend to be highest in major cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where the cost of living is high and the demand for sommeliers is strong.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for a sommelier in New York City is $73,000 per year, while the average salary in San Francisco is $77,000 per year. In contrast, the average salary for a sommelier in a smaller city or town may be lower.
International variations in sommelier salary can also be significant. According to Irieri, the average salary for a sommelier in France is €29,000 per year, while the average salary in Canada is around CAD$52,000 per year. In the United Kingdom, the average salary for a sommelier is £24,000 per year.
These are averages, and individual salaries can vary widely depending on the establishment they work in, the experience of the sommelier, and the region they work in.
Additionally, the earning potential for sommeliers may also vary depending on the establishment they work in, the experience of the sommelier, and the region they work in.
How Inflation and the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Sommelier Salaries
Inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic both affected sommelier salaries in different ways.
Inflation affected sommeliers’ salaries by increasing the cost of living, leading to higher salaries. However, inflation also affects restaurants, as the cost of goods and services, such as food and wine, may also increase. As a result, restaurants may be less willing to pay higher salaries to sommeliers, which can lead to a decrease in the earning potential for sommeliers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the restaurant industry, with many restaurants closing permanently or experiencing a significant decrease in business. As a result, the demand for sommeliers has decreased, and many have lost their jobs or had to accept lower salaries. Some sommeliers who have retained their jobs have had to accept reduced hours or pay.
The impact of the pandemic on sommelier salaries has varied widely depending on the region and the type of establishment. Sommeliers working in high-end restaurants in major cities may have been less affected than those working in lower-end establishments or in smaller cities or towns. Additionally, the earning potential for sommeliers may also be affected by the overall economic conditions and the state of the restaurant industry.
In summary, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic can affect sommelier salaries differently. The pandemic has significantly impacted the restaurant industry, affecting the earning potential of sommeliers. The impact of the pandemic on sommelier salaries has varied widely depending on the region and the type of establishment.
How Much Money Can a Certified Sommelier Make?
A certified sommelier salary can expect to make a competitive salary. Typically certified sommelier salary will make between $50,000 and $60,000 every year working with a certified wine steward and certified beer stewards to provide expert advice on beer, wine, and spirits. A certified sommelier should have advanced knowledge of different types of wines, grapes, vineyards, winemaking techniques, and international regulations affecting the importation and sale of wine. As well as the technical aspects of wine appreciation, certified sommeliers should have strong business acumen, including people skills for engaging with customers. This is especially critical for those working in fine dining restaurants, where providing an informed experience for guests makes all the difference in creating a successful evening.
How Much Money Can an Advanced Sommelier Make?
An advanced sommelier can expect to make $70,000-$80,000 annually.
Master Sommelier Salary: A High Earning Potential with Additional Income Streams
The salary of a Master Sommelier can vary widely depending on the location, size, and prestige of the restaurant or establishment they work in. However, Master Sommeliers are among the industry's most highly skilled and respected wine professionals. As such, their earning potential can be significantly higher than that of a regular sommelier.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Master Sommelier in the United States is around $75,000 - $100,000 per year. However, Master Sommeliers working in high-end restaurants in major cities may earn significantly more. Additionally, a Master Sommelier with a great reputation, experience, and many certifications may earn more than the average.
In addition to their salary, Master Sommeliers may also have the opportunity to earn additional income through various activities such as speaking engagements, training, and conferences. These opportunities can allow them to showcase their knowledge and expertise and provide them with additional income streams.
Master Sommeliers may be invited to speak at wine tastings, conferences, and seminars. These engagements can allow them to share their knowledge and expertise with others and provide them with an additional source of income.
Training and consulting
Master Sommeliers may also offer training and consulting services to individuals, restaurants, and other organizations. This may include training on wine selection, wine pairing, and wine service and consulting on wine programs and lists.
Master Sommeliers may also be entrepreneurs and have their own businesses, such as running their own wine shops, wine bars, or import wine companies; they can create their own cash flow and make passive income by creating their own brands and products.
In summary, Master Sommeliers may have the opportunity to earn additional income through various activities such as speaking engagements, training, and conferences. Additionally, entrepreneurial opportunities such as running their own wine shop or bar can provide them with additional income streams. These opportunities can allow Master Sommeliers to showcase their knowledge and expertise and increase their earning potential.
What are some tips for aspiring sommeliers?
Some tips for aspiring sommeliers include:
-Gain more experience
-Move to a larger city or a more upscale restaurant
-Work hard and dedication
-Network with other sommeliers.
These are just a few things you can do to make more money as a sommelier.
How to Increase Sommelier Salaries
A sommelier's salary increase is not automatic but can be easily attained with the right strategies. To increase a sommelier's salary, a sommelier must focus on developing an authoritative tone of voice when discussing wine. They should educate themselves on varietals and stay current and knowledgeable on all relevant topics in the world of wine.
Certification programs and networking opportunities can also increase a sommelier’s exposure to potential employers, thereby increasing the potential for salary increase through market value or negotiation. Ultimately, by educating oneself and creating strategic partnerships within the industry, a motivated sommelier can increase their salary significantly.
These are just a few things you can do to make more money as a sommelier.
The sommelier levels, driven by job title, involve curating an exceptional wine list, ensuring that customers get a personalized selection experience beyond price point and reputation. Although sommeliers receive a respectable salary for the knowledge and expertise they bring to their craft, the immense opportunity for growth within this growing industry is easily the biggest draw. By understanding flavor profiles in reds and whites, rosés, and champagnes, sommeliers gain valuable insight into ordering new vintages from around the world to add to their restaurant's wine list. With opportunities to work up the sommelier levels as they advance in their career pay scale, sommeliers can look forward to being well-compensated pros!
THE 5 FINAL TIPS TO INCREASE SOMMELIER SALARY
1. Get certified.
The first step to increasing your sommelier's salary is to get certified. The Court of Master Sommeliers offers three levels of certification: Introductory Sommelier, Certified Sommelier, and Master Sommelier. Each level requires passing a written exam and a practical exam. The Master Sommelier exam is widely considered the most difficult exam in the world, with a pass rate of less than 5%.
2. Gain experience.
Once you have your certification, it’s important to gain experience in the industry. Many sommeliers start working in restaurants, but there are other options. You could also work in a wine shop, winery, or distribution company. The more experience you have, the more valuable you will be to potential employers.
It’s also important to network with other sommeliers and industry professionals. Attend industry events, and trade shows, and exchange business cards with as many people as possible. You never know when one of your contacts may have an opportunity for you.
4. Stay up to date on trends.
To stand out from the crowd, staying up to date on the latest trends in the wine industry is important. This means reading trade publications, attending seminars and tastings, and generally doing whatever you can to learn more about wine. The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to land a high-paying job.
5. Consider relocating.
If you’re willing to relocate, you may be able to find a higher-paying job in another city or country. Many sommeliers find they can make more money working in major metropolitan areas such as New York City or London. So if you’re open to relocating, searching for jobs in these cities may be worthwhile.
You can make a perfect living in this exciting field with hard work and dedication! Salaries for sommeliers can vary greatly depending on experience, location, and other factors. However, with the right skills and experience, you can make a good living as a sommelier!
If you are interested in this exciting career, check our website for more information.
Alper, Advanced Sommelier
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Tipping sommeliers in cash, beyond adding the customary 15 to 20 percent tip on the bill, is up the customer's discretion." Another reason for tipping the typical 15 to 20 percent on food and wine is the tax liability for servers.How many level 1 sommeliers are there in the world? ›
There are currently 269 people in the world who have passed the final sommelier certification level and earned the title Master Sommelier.What is the average age of a sommelier? ›
The average age of a sommelier rests between 20 and 30 years of age.Who is the youngest level 1 sommelier? ›
Toru Takamatsu is currently 27 years old. He is the youngest Master Sommelier in the world and the first person in Japan to obtain the certification.How hard is level 1 sommelier? ›
The first level sommelier test is offered at the end of a weekend course, and around 90% of students pass it. The next level, the Certified Sommelier, has about 66% of its applicants passing. The Advanced Sommelier exam pass rate is about 25%, and the Master Sommelier pass rate is around 5%.Why does a sommelier wear around his neck? ›
Why does a sommelier wear around his neck? That's called a “tastevin” (which is French for “taste wine” and pronounced “taht-vahn” ). This shallow silver metal cup is faceted and convex so that when you're in a candle-lit cellar (before electricity), you can judge the color and clarity of a wine.Why do sommeliers hold the bottle from the bottom? ›
Because the serving temperature of wine is so important to its enjoyment, you'll often see sommeliers holding the bottle from the bottom by the punt. Because the glass is thicker there, this supposedly transfers less body heat from the hand to the wine.Do sommeliers taste wine before serving? ›
Usually, a server or sommelier will present the wine bottle for visual inspection and then pour a taste for the person who ordered it. The server will then wait for you to smell and taste the wine and then give your approval for them to serve the rest of the guests.What is a female sommelier called? ›
The French word for female sommelier is sommelière (soh/me/lyair). In English, we don't use the feminine word form, and both men and women are refered to as sommeliers.
Being a Barista at the age of 21, you became a Master Sommelier in just three years, which is incredible. What inspired/motivated you to join the wine industry?Are there any female master sommeliers? ›
There are 168 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization's inception. Of those, 143 are men and 25 are women.What's higher than a sommelier? ›
For the ambitious few with their sights set on the highest level of education in the industry, there are two paramount credentials often equated as the MDs and PhDs of the Wine Industry: Master Sommelier and Master of Wine.What do sommeliers do day to day? ›
They'll typically spend an hour accepting deliveries, putting wines away, restocking cellars, preparing wines for the evening, and updating wines that are out of stock.Is sommelier exam hard? ›
Club and Resort Chef claims that the Master Sommelier test is one of the world's most challenging tests and has a pass rate of 10%. Since 1969, only 273 people have earned the Master Sommelier title and they each had to pass the exam's three different parts.What is the world toughest exam sommelier? ›
Master Sommelier Diploma Exam
The Master Sommelier Diploma Examination consists of three parts: a theory examination (an oral examination and not written), a deductive tasting of six wines, and a practical wine service examination. The minimum passing score for each of the three sections is 75%.
I am enrolled in the program offered by The Court of Masters Sommeliers, which has four levels of Sommelier status: The first level is the “Introductory Sommelier” status. To earn this status you are required to pass a Wine Theory exam consisting of 70 questions about wine types and the various regions they come from.Can you be a sommelier without drinking? ›
Do you want to become a sommelier ? and go through the certification course ? As long as you're willing to taste wine systematically, you won't need to drink the wine. At least not in the strictest sense. You can always spit out the wine once you're done tasting, as most professionals during tastings would do.What is the toughest wine exam in the world? ›
Which Country has the toughest exam in the world? The Master Sommelier Diploma is easily the toughest exam in the world. This prestigious exam is an exam about wine and wine tasting; it consists of a theory portion as well as a practical portion.What is the hardest wine test in the world? ›
The blind taste test, regarded by many candidates as the toughest portion, gives Master Sommelier hopefuls 25 minutes to identify six different wines, describing each one and supplying information on its year, grape variety, country and district of origin.
Climbing at the zenith of the toughest exams in the world, the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) conducts the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to encourage improved standards of beverage service by sommeliers, particularly in wine and food pairing. 3 components are put to test, i.e. theory, service and blind tasting.Can a sommelier smoke? ›
While there are no specific rules prohibiting a sommelier from smoking, it is generally considered unprofessional and may affect their ability to taste and evaluate wine accurately.Why do sommeliers slurp? ›
When a sommelier slurps wine, they are drawing air into their mouth and through the liquid, which intensifies the flavors and aromas they're evaluating. Think of it like audio volume – a music critic can better evaluate the subtlety of sound when the volume is turned up.What personality traits do sommeliers have? ›
- good communication and customer service skills.
- to be tactful, friendly and polite to customers.
- good sales skills to promote different wines to customers.
- stamina; you'll be on your feet a lot.
- to be prepared to work long, unsocial hours.
- good fitness for bending and lifting; some items could be heavy.
The reason some wine professionals will sniff the cork is that they're looking for early evidence that the wine could be infected with a bacteria called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole—or TCA for short.What does the hole under a wine bottle mean? ›
The large indent in the base of wine bottles is known as a punt. It is intended to strengthen the bottle and not to give the impression that the bottle contains more liquid than it really does.Why do waiters pour wine over their arm? ›
The logic is that the somm will catch any flaws or issues with the wine before it makes its way to the table.What not to say at a wine tasting? ›
Do say: “I can see it's a vibrant purple, this must be a young red”. Don't say: “Look at the legs! This must be a great wine”. This is one of the most crucial parts of wine tasting, because the aromas, perceived only through the nose, are a vital part of our appreciation of a wine.Why do they only pour a little wine? ›
The reason for these measurements is because red wines need room to breathe and aerate, white or sparkling wines don't need breathing room. If the glass is full, it will be difficult to swirl any wine without spilling it.Why do waiters show the wine bottle? ›
When the waiter shows you the bottle and announces the name of the wine, they're double-checking it's the one you ordered. Don't get intimidated or confused by this move — the waiter is simply making sure they didn't make a mistake.
Victoria James discovered the book Wine for Dummies during her bartending days in New York, and she was hooked. So she all the money she made from working in high-end restaurants to pay for wine classes, and at 21 — the legal drinking age — she became America's youngest sommelier.What is the coffee equivalent of a sommelier? ›
Simply put, a Q Grader is the closest thing there is to a coffee sommelier. Becoming a Q Grader allows one to assess with authority the quality of coffee within either the Arabica or Robusta markets (you pick a lane when certifying).Who is the youngest female Master Sommelier? ›
Singh passed the Court of Master Sommeliers' advanced certification test at age 21. In 2003, she passed the final exam to become the youngest woman ever to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier.What is higher than a Master Sommelier? ›
While the Master Sommelier qualification is geared towards beverage service, the Master of Wine centres on testing for a wide and deep knowledge of the wine industry.How many people have passed Master Sommelier? ›
The Master Sommelier exam is offered twice per year in the US and once per year in the UK. On average candidates sit for the exam two to three times, and some take the test as many as six times. Only 14 people have ever passed the Master level on the first try. Some attempt the exam up to a dozen times before passing.How many black master sommeliers are there? ›
SAN FRANCISCO -- There are less than 300 total Master Sommeliers in the world, only four of those are Black. Chris Gaither has beaten the odds. Now just a few weeks into opening his new wine bar and restaurant in San Francisco, Gaither is giving a nod to a Napa-based organization that supported him to get there.Who is the most famous sommelier? ›
At the end of five days of competition, Raimonds Tomsons, representing Latvia, won the title of Best Sommelier in the World at the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) Best Sommelier of the World competition.What is the difference between a Master Sommelier and a sommelier? ›
Master Sommelier is now considered to be the highest and most prestigious title available to sommeliers around the world. Just keep in mind that the CMS is a certifying body, and not an academic body.How hard is Master of Wine? ›
The Master of Wine exam is known to be one of the most challenging, not only in the wine world, but in comparison to qualifiers in other industries as well. Photo credit: Karel Noppe (Adobe Stock). Fewer than 500 people have passed the Master of Wine exam since its inception in 1953.What is the pass rate for Masters of Wine? ›
Unlike other Masters programmes, it has a notably low pass rate of around 10%, making it one of the rarest and most difficult titles to acquire.
The first non-UK Master of Wine was awarded in 1988. As of March 2021, there are 416 MWs in the world, living in 31 countries. The MWs are spread across 5 continents, wherein the UK has 208 MWs, US has 45 MWs, Australia has 24 MWs and France has 16 MWs.Can you make money as a sommelier? ›
BinWise.com breaks down sommelier salaries by the level of certification. A level 1 sommelier averages $55,000 annually while a master sommelier, of which there are only hundreds worldwide , can earn up to $164,000 annually.Can sommeliers tell the difference? ›
Some blinded trials among wine consumers have indicated that people can find nothing in a wine's aroma or taste to distinguish between ordinary and pricey brands. Academic research on blinded wine tastings have also cast doubt on the ability of professional tasters to judge wines consistently.How many advanced sommeliers are there? ›
There are now 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 176 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.How long does it take to become a Level 4 sommelier? ›
Their Level 2 Wine Award requires 28 hours of total study time, while the Level 3 Wine Award and Level 4 Diploma in Wines consists of 84 and 500 hours of study time, respectively.What are the 4 levels of sommelier? ›
The Court of Master Sommeliers, established as one of the foremost bodies for the profession, conducts four levels of tests: introductory sommelier, certified sommelier, advanced sommelier and master sommelier. Only 269 professionals have earned the Level Four distinction since the Court's inception in 1969.Who is the best sommelier in the world? ›
ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2023 Raimonds Tomsons .How many female master sommeliers are there? ›
There are 168 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization's inception. Of those, 143 are men and 25 are women. There are 273 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since it was established in 1969.How hard is the Master Sommelier exam? ›
Club and Resort Chef claims that the Master Sommelier test is one of the world's most challenging tests and has a pass rate of 10%. Since 1969, only 273 people have earned the Master Sommelier title and they each had to pass the exam's three different parts.How many advanced sommeliers are there in the US? ›
There are now 103 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. Of those, 89 are men and 14 are women. There are 176 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.
oenophile • \EE-nuh-fyle\ • noun. : a lover or connoisseur of wine.How do you verify a sommelier? ›
All sommelier and wine credentials issued by the National Wine School can be verified by employers and schools using this simple form. Each certificate issued comes with a unique code, which can be entered securely here.Who is the best sommelier of the Americas? ›
Valeria Gamper. Valeria Gamper, sommelier and wine educator, is the new ASI Best Sommelier of the Americas. After a week of competitions in Chile, she was announced the winner.