Toasting the International Sommelier Community on June 3

On this International Sommelier’s Day, explore how sommeliers can craft exquisite dining moments and cultivate a sophisticated restaurant identity through their expertise and passion



Jun 1, 2023 - 3 min read

Toasting the International Sommelier Community on June 3

On June 3rd, the world will unite in a global toast to honor sommeliers everywhere. On this day in 1969 in Reims, France, the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) was established, marking June 3 as International Sommelier Day. 

The ASI has been instrumental in elevating the status of the somellier beyond that of a simple wine waiter to that of a recognized specialist central to the restaurant's core mission: creating an unforgettable dining experience. 

To know the fascinating origins of the term "sommelier," let's take a step back in history.  Surprisingly, It originated in the world of medieval transportation, not in the tapestry of emerald vineyards as is commonly believed. In the 14th century, a sommelier was a trusted person in charge of the orderly transport of commodities. It wasn't until the enchanting epoch of late 18th-century Paris that the sommelier's true character emerged: that of a passionate steward of wines. 

Fast forward to the present, and the title of "sommelier" bears the weight of immense professionalism and knowledge.  These days, to call oneself a "sommelier," one must complete a rigorous educational program in the field or undergo years of apprenticeship and training. A wine list crafted by a sommelier for an upscale restaurant is not a haphazard selection of bottles, but a product of relentless research, dedicated study, and daring experimentation. Enter Guillaume Perdigues, the trailblazing winner of Thailand's first Michelin Sommelier award,  Perdigues, who works at Mezzaluna of Lebua Hotels and Resorts in Bangkok, Thailand, shares his enthralling journey of tackling challenges while curating a wine list in Thailand.

“The umami texture, the feeling, the flavors: they don’t like the wine so much. So I had to play smart to find the right combinations. In the beginning, the pairing was not very good. It took time to adapt and understand. So, I try to adjust, especially for pairings. Sometimes I buy wine that I will put in my pairing a year or six months later, just because I know the style of Chef Ryuki and I know it will be good next season”, he told Michelin Guide.

Global sommelier competitions

To celebrate the passion and ingenuity of sommeliers everywhere, ASI conducts yearly Best Sommelier contests at global and transcontinental levels that are widely followed and covered. Here, luminaries of the sommelier world engage in a fierce display of expertise, undertaking tests, tasks, and tastings under the watchful gaze of a jury composed of wine virtuosos themselves. The Best Sommelier Asia and Oceania 2022 contest was held in Japan and was organized by the Japan Sommelier Association (JSA).

The role of wine sommeliers in enhancing the dining experience and the benefits for restaurants

1. Creating wine lists with the sommelier's expertise

As the chef’s mastery lies in the preparation and presentation of food, it is up to the sommeliers to create great wine lists that both enhance the dining experience and meal pairings that accommodate a wide range of diners' tastes.

2. The sommelier's touch — empowering diners with impeccable wine pairings

When guests are not sure about which wine to go with, they can discuss wine choices with the sommelier who can recommend a few wines in their budget.

Takeshi Furuta, a former sommelier and now a Senior Support Supervisor at TableCheck confirms that many patrons hold misconceptions about what truly constitutes a great wine pairing. He explains:

"Guests often believe that expensive vintage wines are the ultimate choice, disregarding the numerous factors that influence the ideal wine selection. It's a much more nuanced decision than simply opting for the priciest bottle available."

Furata learned his craft at an award-winning French restaurant in Japan where he spent more than five years as a sommelier. Prior to that, he graduated from a culinary school.

"I wanted to be a specialist in the food and beverage industry," he says. Furata both has a cooking and sommelier license under his belt which allowed him in his sommelier career to be able to recommend the perfect pairing of dishes and wines to his clients.

Whether it's a glass of chardonnay with creamy pasta or a flute of chilled champagne to celebrate a special milestone, sommeliers like Furata know best. 

3. Sommeliers as masters of upselling

The deep expertise of sommeliers extends beyond everyday wine selections. Their nuanced understanding of the craft guides them in making recommendations for expensive and rare vintages. Guests value sommeliers' discerning choices and entrust them with curating unique and premium experiences with great wines.

4. Exclusivity and brand enhancement: The power of a sommelier's touch

For restaurants aspiring to offer exclusivity, the addition of a master sommelier can be transformative. Master Sommeliers possess in-depth knowledge of wines, including regions, flavor profiles, and grape varieties. Their ability to recommend exquisite wines is complemented by their talent for engaging in meaningful conversations and resonating with posh clientele. By hiring a sommelier, establishments elevate their brand, offering guests an elevated and refined experience.

Rising stars: Female sommeliers leading the charge for inclusion and diversity

Despite being in the 21st century, the presence of female sommeliers remains disappointingly limited, largely due to the perception of the trade as a male-dominated field. Nonetheless, some remarkable female sommeliers are actively pushing the restaurant industry toward a more diverse, fair, and inclusive future. Nutawan Jumpanak, a sommelier at the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, is one of them. Her creativity, passion, and expertise have captivated guests and set an inspiring example for aspiring sommeliers.

Wine Guru Nutawan Jumpanak, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel’s First Female Head Sommelier and Thailand's Best Sommelier 2019.

Meanwhile, Elyssa Marie Vergara, Head Sommelier at Singapore's stunning Braci restaurant, has established herself as a major player in the industry. For Elyssa, wine appreciation is a lifelong journey of learning and discovering new labels.

On June 3rd, TableCheck will celebrate Sommeliers for the important part they play in providing an exceptional dining experience. TableCheck can assist restaurants in automating marketing campaigns if they are preparing a special offer for Sommelier Day.  TableCheck is used by more than 8000+ hospitality operators around the world to offer their guests award-winning experiences.

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