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How Much Do Sommeliers Make? Uncorking the Value of Experts

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

For restaurants and many wine businesses, Sommeliers have the essential job role of making the most out of customers’ dining experiences.

They excel most in food and wine pairings, but they can also work in maximizing the revenue of these businesses. 

That’s why, in most cases, Sommelier salaries are higher than other employees. But how much do Sommeliers make?

I’ve asked some of my Sommelier buddies about their average income and how they started on this career path. 

Average Annual Income of Sommeliers

Getting Bottle of Wine on a Wine Rack

The average Sommelier salary ranges from $70,000 to $80,000 annually. This income can vary depending on various factors, like years of experience, certifications, locations, and skills.

People with more years of serving, tasting, and managing have a higher potential of gaining a high salary, while Master Sommeliers can earn up to six figures. 

Master Sommelier’s salary is among the highest in the service industry.

A Sommelier is a link between the wine and the consumer; they are the ones who make the wine come alive.” – Jörg Pfützner, Certified Sommelier 

Jobs in high-end restaurants in major cities tend to pay Sommeliers more generously than smaller establishments in rural areas. 

Sommelier Levels & Their Average Income

Introductory Sommelier Salary

Starting at the entry job level, Introductory Sommeliers can expect an annual income of approximately $40,000 to $50,000.

To reach this stage, you must pass the Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination after at least three years of working in the beverage industry. You can do it online or in person within six months. 

This stage includes basic information on common terminologies, grape varieties, spirits, beer, and more. 

Certified Sommelier Salary

Certified Sommeliers must pass the 2nd level of CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) certification after at least one year from taking the Introductory Course. 

It is a one-day examination where you will have to put your theories, service, and tasting skills to the test. This certification may need three to seven years of experience to pass this test. 

After obtaining the title, a Certified Sommelier salary starts from around $60,000 to $70,000 annually.

Advanced Sommelier Salary

person getting wine

As you ascend further, you reach the Advanced Sommelier stage. Here, your wine expertise is indeed shining. Your average income now falls around $70,000 to $80,000 per year.

This salary will put you in the top 20 earners in the United States. CMS recommends another year between passing the certification and Advanced Sommelier programs.

Master Sommelier Salary

The pinnacle of Sommelier achievement is the Master Sommelier title. The median salary of a Master Sommelier is at least $164,000 annually, and they are considered statistically irrelevant to other Sommelier salaries.

With less than 300 people holding this title worldwide, Master Sommeliers are in their own league in the hospitality business, the top of the game for a good reason.

Other Titles

Wine Sales Manager Salary

Wine Sales Managers usually earn a Sommelier salary base of around $60,000 to $80,000 per year. Wine Sales Managers are in charge of connecting wineries with customers and overseeing the pricing of the wine products.

Depending on the location, skills, and experience, Wine Sales Managers can earn more money and reach at least $120,000 annually.

Wine Consultant Salary

Wine Consultants provide expertise and guidance to wine enthusiasts and buyers. They can expect to earn a Sommelier salary base of approximately $45,000 to $60,000 per year.

These numbers relate to working at a vineyard, liquor store, winery, and restaurant. 

Wine Director Salary

Wine Directors often oversee wine programs in wine companies, restaurants, and hotels.

Their salary base starts from $75,000 to $100,000 annually, reflecting their vital role in curating wine experiences for patrons and wine programs for the businesses. 

How Do You Become A Sommelier?

To become a Sommelier, you will need the appropriate experience in restaurants or wine shops to start with the Introductory Sommelier job. 

After that, you will need to be a Certified Sommelier and then level up more through becoming an Advanced Sommelier to a Master Sommelier.

To become a Sommelier, you must demonstrate your tasting skills, wine knowledge, and service abilities. Your Sommelier salary may start from $40,000 to more than $160,000 after obtaining the Master Sommelier title.

Does Sommelier Make A Lot Of Money?

Dollar Bill

Yes, Master Sommeliers pull in a lot of money, reaching up to six figures annually. The median salary for this job can reach more than $160,000.

“The wine world isn’t limited to Sommeliers. Other roles also offer exciting career paths and salaries worth exploring.” – Liquor Laboratory

However, those just starting on this career path, such as those working as Introductory Sommeliers, can still earn a decent salary, just within the United State’s annual average salary.

What Is The Highest Sommelier Salary?

The highest Sommelier salary can reach at least 160,000, especially the Master Sommeliers. However, very few are at this level since the world only has less than 300 Master Sommeliers [1]

The source of salary for a Master Sommelier varies from consultations, incentives, bonuses, and more. Aside from a Master Sommelier’s salary, Advanced Sommeliers can also earn an above-average salary.

All four levels of Sommeliers offer competitive salaries in restaurants and the food service industry.

FAQs

How many Level 3 Sommeliers are there?

There are more or less a thousand Level 3 or Advanced Sommeliers. These people have gained enough experience and an advantage in a dining establishment. 

The median Advanced Sommelier salary can reach around $75,000.

What is a female Sommelier called?

A female Sommelier is still called a Sommelier. The word applies to both genders in English, but in French, a female Sommelier is called Sommelière (soh/mə/lyehr). 

How old is the youngest Sommelier?

The world’s youngest Master Sommelier is Toru Takamatsu, 28 years old. He is also the first person in Japan to become a Master Sommelier. 

However, the youngest to become a Master Sommelier in the United States is Victoria James [2]. She did it at age 21, the minimum legal drinking age in the US. 

On A Final Note

So, how much does a Sommelier make? Well, a Master Sommelier is one of the most respected jobs and professions worldwide, so they surely make a lot of cash, ranging from $70,000 to $80,000 annually.

They are limited to less than 300 people worldwide, making it an incredible feat to reach this level. 

Most people spend at least eight years of working experience for certification and an incredible skill set before attaining this title. 

So, if you’re thinking about pursuing this path, you’ll need to pack up endless dedication, passion, and a whole lot of effort. Your journey will surely pay off because the basic Master Sommelier salary (even other Sommelier levels) can reach up to six figures annually.

References:

  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/sanfrancisco/news/1-of-only-4-black-master-sommeliers-worldwide-opens-new-wine-bar-in-san-francisco/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/adammorganstern/2020/04/09/wine-girl-victoria-james-writes-about-being-americas-youngest-sommelier-and-what-needs-to-change-in-the-industry/

Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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