Somm Essentials (Sommelier Preparation)

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WINE, SPIRITS, TASTING, PAIRING, SERVICE, AND BEYOND: AN 11 Session program to help students develop a foundational knowledge in a broad array of fine beverages.   

Developed by Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator, David Glancy, and revered by professionals and enthusiasts alike, this foundational program provides hands-on training and new insight into the world of fine beverages.  Somm Essentials students will learn the essential professional techniques of blind wine tasting, food and wine pairing, and beverage service and gain insight into the fundamental elements, styles, and production techniques of wine, spirits, beer, and sake, as well as tea, coffee, bottled water.

The official Society of Wine Educators' Hospitality Beverage Specialist Exam and Study Guide is included as a supplement to proprietary lectures and interactive tasting exercises provided by our industry leading instructors during each class.  This program is perfect for those considering or preparing for beginning to intermediate level sommelier exams and those who want to learn inside secrets of the professionals.

Read Manresa's in-depth program experience in Somm Journal.

An abbreviated 2-Day Theory, Tasting & Service Intensive format is also available for expedited learning about the world of wine.

**Please inform us of any dietary allergies or intolerances at the time of registration so we can accommodate your needs.**


Session 1 

Sundays 10am-1pm
Mar 14 to Jun 6* 
no class Apr 4 or May 30

Session 2 

Mondays 6pm-9pm
Sept 13 to Nov 22* 

*In-Person Available if Permitted / Live Online w/ Tasting Kits Always Available


Students will taste over 30 wines and 12 beers/spirits throughout the course of the program to enhance and reinforce the learning objectives, lectures, discussions, and reading.


Somm Essentials consists of ten weekly workshops covering the following areas. Each class within the full program can be taken as a single workshop.  Click the links to learn more!

There are three parts to the Somm Essentials Exam. Students must pass all three parts to earn their Somm Essentials Certificate.

  • Theory: The Hospitality Beverage Specialist Credential exam from the Society of Wine Educators represents the theory portion of the Sommelier Essentials exam. Students who pass this portion will earn the Hospitality/Beverage Specialist Credential.
  • Service: Students will be tested on service and wine pairing though a hands-on practical examination.
  • Tasting: Students will blind taste 2 wines and provide a written analysis.

Who should take Somm Essentials?

Somm Essentials provides broad knowledge across multiple beverage categories for students starting out in the food & beverage industry or those looking to polish their skills or broaden their skill base. It is ideal for waiters, bartenders, foodservice managers, tasting room staff, and food writers, as well as those pursuing sommelier and other wine credentials. The class is also great for enthusiasts who want to know more about the beverages they enjoy.

Why was the Somm Essentials program created?

"Based on my experience as a Master Sommelier and helping hundreds of students earn their Certified Sommelier titles," explains Glancy, "there is a clear need to provide a robust overview of the beverage and wine world before delving more deeply into wine regions. There are so many important parallels and common themes across the beverage world. Students should internalize them from the start to serve a client base that is growing more sophisticated by the day. In addition, I have seen too many students in CSW or pursuing sommelier-level education who lacked crucial service and blind tasting skills. From a wine career perspective, they are skills that must be introduced correctly early on."

How Does Somm Essentials fit into other examination tracks and career paths?

Somm Essentials serves as an important stepping stone toward the challenging Certified Specialist of Wine exam and many career paths within the wine and beverage industry. With continued study, tasting, and service practice, students will have a jump start in preparing for the Court of Master Sommeliers first two levels of exams and comparable exams from other credentialing organizations.

What are Sample Study Questions for Somm Essentials?

  • What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee?
  • Does green and black tea come from the same species of tea plant?
  • What types of barrels are used in the production of scotch?
  • What are the classic flavor components and styles of gin?
  • Which ingredients in beer making are responsible for flavors versus fermentation?
  • What are the various factors that influence the style and quality of sake?
  • What are bud break, flowering, and verasion and when do they occur?
  • What red grapes thrive in cooler regions?
  • What are the prominent sites for Riesling around the world?
  • What are the proper serving temperatures for all types of wine?
  • How can the growing climate and grape variety be determined in a blind tasting?


*Installment plans available.  Group rates available for parties of 5 or more.  Contact for more information

  • Exam Fees & Registration
  • Access to the Society of Wine Educators Online Wine Academy and the Hospitality Beverage Specialist Certificate Program
  • San Francisco Wine School Water Bottle
  • Certificate upon successful completion


South San Francisco
San Francisco Wine School

415 Grand Ave #301
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Click for parking and public transportation information

*See our latest Re-Opening Information for updates on In-Person and Online Classes.


All Webinar & Webcast participants will receive pdf handouts, wine lists, and a the link to attend the webinar with login details.  

If in-person classes have not yet resumed by the time class begins or if you are unable to attend class in person, full price registrants may pickup a wine tasting kit with class wines at the school by appointment or have it shipped to you for an additional fee.  You will be notified of pickup procedures prior to class.

All attendees must be 21+ years

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