Sommeliers are now being hired for much more than their ability to match wine to food. With a growing thirst in the UK for drinks such as craft beers and boutique spirits, restaurants are now embracing a more informal approach to service. The traditional perception of a restaurant sommelier is the starchy in-house wine expert. However, this has seen a shift in recent years, according to Craig Allen, co-founder of recruitment company Change.
Speaking to Big Hospitality, the firm says that they are now increasingly being tasked to find staff with a more relaxed approach to the matching of food and drink, both in their delivery and the selection. The high-end and Michelin restaurants now have their chefs designing menus hand-in-hand with their sommelier. This is to ensure that the food and drink pairings can really take the dining experience to the next level. Diners now expect these pairings to include a variety of drinks, including beers, ciders and spirits, as well as the conventional wines. The attitude of the sommelier is now expected to be very different as well.
Diners like to discuss the variety of drinks that could compliment their meal, and to know a bit more about the choice they are making. ”Historically, when the term sommelier was mentioned, one would immediately picture an intimidating French sommelier who knew far more about wine than you ever would, and would not be interested in your preferences,” Mr Allen said. “This is now a thing of the past. Modern day sommeliers are becoming a lot more approachable, not only in their rapport with customers but also in their methodology when creating a beverage programme.”