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Top 12 Sommelier Interview Questions & Example Answers

Are you looking to start or advance your Sommelier career? If the answer is yes, you came to the right place.

We created the below Sommelier interview questions to help you get ready for your upcoming interview.

Explore some of the common questions Sommeliers encounter in interviews, categorized into the following:

  • General interview questions
  • Interview questions covering skills and experience
  • Situational interview questions

General Questions Asked in a Sommelier Interview

Read the general Sommelier questions below to get a feel of what you can expect in your upcoming job interview:

What do you think are the most important qualities in a Sommelier?

Sample answer: “I think that the most important qualities in a Sommelier are knowing various wines and understanding their production processes. Obviously, this includes understanding what wine pairs with specific foods.

In line with those hard skills, a good Sommelier would also have excellent communication skills to make recommendations and deliver fine service to the restaurant floor.”

How do you describe the taste of wine to a customer?

Sample answer: “Explaining the taste of wine to customers comes down to breaking down and communicating individual components. For example, when trying to explain the aroma, I would use words like ‘fruits,’ ‘flowers’ or ‘spices.’ Then, for taste, I would focus on communicating things like sweetness, acidity and tannins.

In this way, I can relate the taste of wine to a customer in a way they can understand.”

How do you analyze wine, if we assume that the taste experience is subjective?

Sample answer: “While the wine taste experience is subjective, certain wine qualities are not. I try to communicate these objective qualities to customers when I describe things like aroma, taste, and finish.

Ultimately, it does come down to preferences. But by deconstructing the preferences of the individual we can learn the qualities that said individual prefers.”

How long should you decant a wine?

Sample answer: “It depends. Light red wines and light-bodied white wines can normally be decanted in less than 30 minutes. However, more full-bodied varieties like nebbiolo or syrah might need more than an hour.”

Sommelier Interview Questions Covering Skills and Experience

Employers might use this set of Sommelier interview questions to assess your skills. Considering that the Court of Master Sommeliers offers four different certified levels, you should use this as an opportunity to highlight your Sommelier skills.

Have you worked in fine-dining restaurants before?

Sample answer: “Yes, I have worked in several fine-dining establishments. There, I curated wine lists and worked on pairings with the Chef. I was also in charge of training other members of the staff on different types of wine and was doing wine service on the restaurant floor.”

Are you a certified Sommelier?

Sample answer: “Yes, I am a certified Sommelier. I obtained my certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers.”

What’s your experience in curating and managing wine lists?

Sample answer: “I have extensive experience in curating and managing wine lists. This includes understanding wines from different regions, grape varieties and price points.

When I create and manage a wine list, I take into account the food that’s offered at the establishment and the price- point. I also have experience in managing the wine inventory and negotiating with suppliers for discounted prices.”

Tell us about your process for recommending wines to customers?

Sample answer: “I start by asking the customer about their preferences, whether they prefer more acidic, oaky or full-bodied flavors. I also ask them about the dish they have ordered.

From there, I try recommending a couple of options that that would complement the customer’s food, explaining the taste of each and why I think it would go well with their meal.”

Situational Sommelier Interview Questions

The below set of questions evaluates an individual’s ability to be quick on their feet and ensure excellent customer service in all situations.

A customer requested a wine recommendation but ended up disliking it. How would you handle this situation?

Sample answer: “If a customer ordered wine and were unhappy with my recommendation, I would first apologize. Then I would ask what they specifically didn’t like and try to come up with several alternatives that would better suit the customer’s taste.

I always try to remain courteous and professional, so a peaceful resolution to meet customers’ standards and preferences is my top priority.”

Describe a situation in which you educated other members of the establishment’s staff on wine and pairings.

Sample answer: “In one of my previous roles, I organized weekly staff training sessions. These sessions included wine tastings where I would explain the characteristics of each wine and why it pairs so well with specific dishes on our menu.”

A customer requested a specific bottle of wine but then you learned that the restaurant doesn’t have it in stock. How would you handle this situation?

Sample answer: “If we ran out of a particular wine, I would immediately notify the customer, apologize for the inconvenience and explain the situation. Then, I would recommend different brands of wine that are similar to the one the customer wanted.

Alternatively, I would inquire about the customer’s taste and try to come up with several other wine types that would suit their preferences and complement their dish.”

How would you create a wine list for a tasting event or a special occasion?

Sample answer: “First I’d look into the theme of the event and what food is being served. From there, I would curate a selection that matches the food.

For any event, it is important to remember that you can’t please everyone, so I would create a list that features different styles of wine, regardless of whether it’s white or red.

For white, the selection would have to include a bright sauvignon blanc, accompanied by a richer-style wine such as chardonnay.

For reds, I would suggest a Bordeaux-style blend and a fruit-flavored pinot noir.

Ultimately, I’d create a list based on the theme of the event, number of people and dishes that are served.”

Prepare for your Sommelier Interview as an Applicant

If you still feel like you’re not fully ready to take on the challenges of a Sommelier interview, don’t worry!

We have curated a list of steps you can take to ace your interview and land your Sommelier dream job.

  • Review the job description: Carefully read whether your skills and experience align with the role. Check if you have the necessary number of years as a Sommelier, or whether you have wine inventory management skills. Having the necessary experience and skills will help you thrive in the role. On the other hand, if you’re not a match, then that Sommelier position might not be the right career step for you just yet.
  • Research the establishment: Find out more about the restaurant’s wine offerings, price points and clientele. Come prepared with suggestions that would help improve their wine service.
  • Prepare your talking points and conduct a mock interview: Practice common Sommelier interview questions and do a mock interview with a friend or mentor. This will help you remain calm once the actual interview starts and you will feel more confident about your answers.
  • Choose the right attire: Did you know that 71% of employers won’t hire a candidate who isn’t dressed for the occasion? This proves how important it is to prepare an attire that’s appropriate for the establishment where you are applying.

How To Hire the Best Sommelier for Your Establishment

Hiring the right Sommelier for your restaurant can be a costly endeavor. You want to get it right on your first try and avoid high turnover rates.

So, here are some steps to take:

  • Write a clear job description to give Sommelier applicants an idea of what is expected of them.
  • Compare the applicants’ Sommelier experience with the tasks you will need them to perform.
  • Analyze the candidate’s wine knowledge and experience in pairing wine with food.
  • Examine the candidate’s professionalism and hygiene, as this is essential for all customer-facing roles like Sommeliers.
  • Ask candidates situational questions to see whether they are quick on their feet, especially when it comes to customer service.
  • Evaluate whether the candidate’s own goals and aspirations align with your organization or establishment’s objectives.