It takes time, investment and dedication
to reach the top of the increasingly
popular career of sommelier. by KaThryN KJarsGaard
CAREER TRACK cellar masters
nterest in becoming a sommelier has grown in recent years, and the reasons for
this increased awareness include the 2012 documentary Somm. Today, sommelier as a career
path is drawing in a new generation of oenophiles who are passionate about wine and service.
For some, a special bottle sparked interest in a lifelong study of wine. For others, a part-time
restaurant job in high school or college ignited a passion that led them down the path of devoting
their career to wine.
Peter Marantette, general manager/sommelier at Reserve, Grand Rapids, Michigan, worked in
country clubs in high school and full-service restaurants in college. He knew he wanted to be in
a restaurant, and made the investment in books, wine and time to study. “You have to train your
palate and nose like any other muscle in your body. It’s like an athlete training for a marathon or
game,” he says. “But, ultimately, you have to enjoy it. It’s why wine was created in the first place.”
Wine director Matt Whitney of Eastern Standard, Boston, caught the food and wine bug in
college after an injury sidelined him from sports. He needed a job and ended up at an Italian
fine-dining restaurant. “I found myself reading about wine more than anything else,” he says. “I
did some soul-searching and realized what I really wanted to do.”
He credits the resurgence in wine and wine culture in recent years to increased publicity
and awareness of the career of sommelier from Somm, as well as TV shows such as “Uncorked.”
And, he adds, The Court of Master Sommeliers, Napa, California, and Guild of Sommeliers,
Petaluma, California, are doing a good job of promoting wine. “I’m seeing a real buzz about
wine in Boston and New York, and I’m starting to see the shift from parents drinking Bordeaux
and chardonnay to younger people coming in looking for natural wine or certain styles.”
above aNd oPPosi Te, CloCKwise
From above: 1) wine storage at
eastern standard. 2) arthur hon,
beverage director at sepia, Chicago.
3) eastern standard’s bar. 4) matt
whitney, wine director at eastern
standard. 5) Greg van wagner, wine
director at Jimmy’s, aspen, Colorado.
6) Peter marantette, general manager/
sommelier at reserve, Grand rapids,
michigan, learned early on how to
answer any question at the table about
food or wine.