Three Reasons Why Sommeliers Are Good For Business

With Brexit in the air, we are currently facing the first stage of a concerning staff shortage that is getting worse by the day and will potentially severely damage the hospitality and fine dining industries here in the United Kingdom

Every restaurant/hotel/bar in London is currently short of staff, and its common knowledge that most sommeliers, waiters, chefs, barmen, kitchen staff, all historically come from countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Eastern Europe were the hospitality tradition is more established and part of its culture.

Brexit has now thrown up an issue that there are very few young British nationals that pursue this type of career, as more and more European nationals not sure of what will happen, have already started leaving what was once thought of as a land of opportunity. Whilst at the same time, few are coming in! Hence the influx of requests for sommeliers from restaurants has risen at an alarming rate, never before seen in the industry.

We are now receiving a lot of requests from restaurants, wine bars, wine retailers, hotels, desperately looking for sommeliers able to manage and sell their wines, and we are aware that the shortage involves all levels of hospitality workers.

For a restaurant, wine is the biggest source of income, and without a professional able to manage that part of the revenues, the business will suffer a considerably.

We find ourselves in a position that brings to the forefront the need for British nationals to engage in the hospitality industry, be it as school leavers, 20-30 somethings not sure of what to do or considering a career change.

We must therefore look at the fact that wine stewards, sommeliers are pivotal in the success of a restaurant, and other food and beverage education institutes and the government need to address this issue sooner rather than later. The industry needs to relate more and more with young British nationals, to become aware of wine production in the UK, awareness of the success that English Sparkling wine is having abroad and how many more restaurateurs are seeking to serve it. And of course, the consumer will still want to go out of an evening and expect little or no change in their local or favourite restaurant and assume that their sommelier will also know about Old and New World wines!

Let’s remember the following:

Food drives people but beverages keep you in business: Beverages make up 20-40 percent of a restaurant’s revenue because of their large profit margin and the low labour costs compared to food preparation. The industry standard mark-up for wine is 200-400 percent and restaurants rely on this to offset fluctuating costs of food, labour, venue and utilities. With a Sommelier on staff to keep the wine list alive and the drinks pouring, a business owner can sleep easy.

Beyond the wine list: A Sommelier’s role is much more than recommending wine – they are also expected to specialise in beer, sake, cider, spirits and even coffee and tea, plus they need to select these beverages at a variety of price points based on the target clientele, type of cuisine and location. Sommeliers are also tasked with educating and training staff about beverage offerings on a weekly basis.

Loyalty Pays Off: Through the trust of a Sommelier’s knowledge, customers tend to feel comfortable in their choices and spending. Sommeliers heighten the overall dining experience and contribute to an increase in customer loyalty, which plays a huge role in profitability with repeat customers making up 51 percent of total sales at fine-dining restaurants.

Some would say the role of the Sommelier is changing, as it has become more inclusive of all drinks offered within a restaurant’s beverage program. This evolving role presents an opportunity for businesses to increase their competitive advantage and gain market-share in the crowded restaurant industry. With an increased interest in the art of Sommelierie and our globally recognised sommelier certification, the UK Sommelier Association seeks to educate the uninitiated, the curious, the passionate, the Brits who seek the skill-set of a Sommelier and would advise businesses to consider the benefits as well.

If you would like more information on the Certified Sommelier Course for yourself or a small group of your staff, send an e-mail to: The UK Sommelier Association has a new course starting on the 21/02/2018, and spaces although available, are fast becoming limited!

By UK Sommelier Association