James Lukezic might have an extensive portfolio as a retirement consultant for large corporations that expands two decades, but his passion is also wine. “My family has been making and selling wine for centuries. They have owned wineries in Slovenia (Austrian Hungarian Empire) and the Collio region of Italy,” James Lukezic says. Because of his background, James Lukezic decided to become a sommelier. He explains what being a sommelier is all about.
What is a Sommelier?
A sommelier is someone who is an expert in fine wine and serves only the best quality wine to its patrons. The term sommelier is of French origins, and it used to refer to the wine steward whose job was to serve wine to royalty. According to James Lukezic, it’s safe to say the job description has changed a lot in the last few centuries. Although there are still a few sommeliers that serve royalty, most of them work in the food and hospitality industry.
Most modern sommeliers either work at fine dining restaurants or offer their consulting services. Sommeliers are responsible for knowing important details about the wine they serve patrons. James Lukezic explains any decent sommelier should be able to tell information about the grapes, the region where the grapes were grown, details about the particular vineyard, and more. Sommeliers also have extensive knowledge of the ratings of each wine. Not to mention, the best sommeliers know a great deal about vintage wines.
Responsibilities of a Sommelier
James Lukezic, who is primarily a financial advisor by day, explains the responsibilities of a sommelier are quite broad. Aside from making the perfect pour and educating patrons about wine, sommeliers have specific responsibilities. Many fine dining establishments hire sommeliers to put together the wine list for the menu. They also know which wines go with different foods so that they can make recommendations to customers.
When they work at a restaurant, sommeliers are also responsible for ordering and maintaining the wine. They also train other employees on basic wine knowledge so they can recommend a wine to customers.
Aside from working at restaurants, sommeliers can have enjoyable jobs. Many of them, to keep their skills sharp, travel to the wine regions of the world, and attend wine conventions. Sommeliers must stay current with everything that has to do with wine. They must stay on top of industry and pricing trends. Because wine consumption is all about the customer, sommeliers take the opinions of consumers seriously.
Where Can a Sommelier Work?
Aside from working in fine dining, there are many places where a sommelier can work. Sommeliers go on to become business owners and open a wine store. They can also teach courses on wine and food pairings or train other sommeliers. James Lukezic points out it’s also common for sommeliers to write articles or books on wine.
“My favorite wines are Napa Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot noirs from Oregon’s Willamette Valley,” says James Lukezic. Some of his other activities include the United States Polo Association, New York City’s Fencers Club, and the American Helicopter Society.