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A sommelier guild is a group or organization established to promote ideas and information about tasting, handling, buying, selling, and serving wine both professionally and for personal interest. These types of groups can be large, multinational organizations, or smaller groups founded in a certain area and made up of members from that area. They can consist of hundreds of members or only a handful and may have differing areas of focus or specialization regarding wine. A sommelier guild will usually consist of like-minded people, however, and primarily focus on various aspects of wine culture.
Unlike viticulturists who are individuals specializing in growing and studying wine, sommeliers are typically more heavily involved in the consumer side of the wine industry and culture. A sommelier guild is a group of sommeliers who gather together over the Internet, in small groups at restaurants and bars, and at large conventions to discuss and enjoy wine. These groups will often include education regarding wine and may also be involved in certifying various levels of wine experts and sommeliers who work professionally in wine distribution.
A sommelier guild can be a group of private individuals who get together to discuss and enjoy wine or it may be a professional organization that works to ensure certain levels of professionalism and knowledge within the industry. Local guilds can be fairly common, especially in larger cities or areas with a higher concentration of wine producers and vineyards. These types of guilds will usually meet on a semi-regular basis and may organize wine tastings and other organized events to enjoy wine.
Since sommeliers commonly work within the hospitality industry, often as wine distributors or buyers for hotels, bars, and restaurants, many sommelier guild meetings can occur in such locations. These locations often encourage these types of meetings as a way to establish repeat customers and build connections within the local community. Other sommelier guilds, however, are established more as professional organizations and provide certification for those interested in becoming a sommelier.
A sommelier guild that acts as a professional group will often focus on education and ensuring that its members know a great deal about tasting, serving, and enjoying wine. This can include frequent tastings, as well as certification processes that test members on their knowledge of various aspects of wine. Higher levels of certification in these groups can include traveling to Europe to visit vineyards, studying how things such as smoking and eating certain foods affect the flavor of wine, and learning about wine history in the ancient world.