Before asking whether the sommelier course AIS or FISAR it is natural to ask questions about the sommelier profession. In fact, although so many people begin to attend the ais courses for passion, there are also winelovers who see this path as a work life change. That is why it is important to understand what the sommelier does, how much does a sommelier earn, how to become a sommelier, how much does a sommelier course cost e what to do after becoming a sommelier.

What does the sommelier do?

The sommelier traditionally works in the Ho.Re.Ca. sector and deals with:

  • wine listHe is responsible for selecting and purchasing wines for the restaurant or company, taking care of procurement from wineries and distributors;
  • cellar managementMaintains and organises the cellar (inventory management and stock rotation), ensuring that wines are stored in the best possible conditions;
  • wine service: serves wine to customers, ensuring that each bottle is opened and poured correctly, respecting professional service techniques;
  • customer adviceHe advises customers on which wines to pair with the dishes on the menu, explaining the characteristics of each wine and helping to create an unforgettable sensory experience;
  • tasting and evaluation: conducts wine tastings to assess quality and suitability for the restaurant menu, but can also conduct guided tastings for customers or staff;
  • staff training: educates wait staff on wine service, tasting techniques and the basics of food and wine pairing to enhance the customer experience;
  • participation in eventscan be the host of themed dinners, tastings and presentations of new wines, promoting the business and enhancing the reputation of the restaurant;
  • food and wine pairingsHe works with the chef to create balanced pairings that enhance both food and wine and ensure that both proposals are aligned.

With the advent of technology, the sommelier has found other fields of application outside the world of catering in the strict sense:

  • wine educator: wine courses for wine enthusiasts, in-depth...
  • journalist/bloggerwriting about wine with the right skills enables you to create much more effective and correct wine and food articles than a generalist journalist;
  • content creatorsocial profiles with thousands of (hopefully real) followers can charge companies to sponsor their products (wines, corkscrews, glasses, events...) on their profiles.

Furthermore, training as a sommelier can help to specialise in digital consultancy for wine cellars:

  • corporate blog managementKnowing about wine and food makes it so much easier to write articles for a wine cellar or online wine shop;
  • graph: those who already work in this profession can be facilitated in the creation of labels and packaging for the wine world (and then do you know how much satisfaction you get from uncorking a bottle of wine with a label designed by you?);
  • web designerWeb site developers can think of specialising for wine cellars, as expertise in the world of wine makes it possible to write more effective websites that are truly tailored to the needs of the sector;
  • social media manager: all wine cellars and online wine shops have Instagram profiles, Facebook... and therefore a communication expert who is also a sommelier is definitely an added value.

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How much does a sommelier earn?

A sommelier's earnings can vary significantly depending on several factors, including experience, reputation, geographical location and the type of establishment in which he or she works. 

How much does a beginner or novice sommelier earn? This figure can be considered as an 'assistant sommelier' and his gross remuneration in Italy is between 20,000 € and 30,000 € per year.

As far as experienced sommeliers are concerned, we can divide them into two types:


  • Mid-level sommelierWith a few years of experience, the salary of a sommelier working in high-end restaurants or luxury hotel chains increases to between €30,000 and €50,000 gross per year.
  • Head sommelierexperienced and reputable sommeliers who often work in Michelin-starred restaurants, extra-luxury hotel chains or prestigious wineries can earn between €50,000 and €70,000 gross per year or, in some cases, even more.


  • Experienced sommeliers working as freelancersconsultants for the Ho.Re.Ca. sector (drafting wine lists, hospitality...), educators, writers and famous journalists can earn between €50,000 and €70,000 gross per year or, in some cases, even more.
  • Experienced sommeliers working as employeesThey can work in management positions within large wineries or in extra-luxury hotel chains with a salary that can reach and sometimes exceed € 100,000 gross per year.

In the US and the Far East, sommeliers earn much more than in Italy, but it must be said that even here it is a job that can give great financial satisfaction. For example, for sommeliers working in the dining room you have to add tips which in the case of high-quality or Michelin-starred restaurants can be very high indeed (in the order of hundreds or even thousands of euros). In addition, some establishments recognise a percentage of bottles sold especially if high-end.

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Chiara Bassi book sommelier illustrated manual

Sommelier: the illustrated manual

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How to become a sommelier?

Becoming a sommelier requires commitment, passion and a constant willingness to learn. With the right training and dedication, you can develop a rewarding career in the world of wine. To become a sommelier, you need to attend a training course consisting of at least three levels and pass a final exam. There are various associations for this purpose, the oldest and most renowned in Italy being the Associazione Italiana Sommelier (AIS) and abroad the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

How much does a sommelier course cost?

The cost of becoming a sommelier varies from association to association and from region to region, but approximately €2,000 should be budgeted for, plus a budget for travel in case you do not live in the same city where the course is held.

What to do after becoming a sommelier?

Once you have passed the AIS or any other association's exam and earned the title of sommelier you are ready to embark on a professional career. At this point the best possible attitude is to approach any of the careers listed above with passion and humility because the world of wine is vast and you really never stop learning!

How to become a sommelier