Somm Essentials (Sommelier Preparation)

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.

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."

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!

2023 Session Dates & Times

Session 1

Sundays 1:30-4:30pm
Jan 22 to Apr 16* 

*no class Feb 19 or Apr 9

Session 2

Tuesdays 6-9pm
Jul 18 to Sep 26th

Inquire for late registration


Session 3

Tuesdays 6-9pm
Oct 3rd to Dec 19th*

*No class on Oct 31st  |  Exam Dec 19th 

 Apply for scholarship by Aug 31

Hybrid - Room/Zoom

We've recently invested in some serious AV technology upgrades to create an integrated Hybrid Room/Zoom experience for all students, so each individual can choose to participate in-person as a "Roomer" with wine in their glass or online as a "Zoomer" with a custom tasting kit.  Both Roomers and Zoomers have the same wines and are able to engage with us and each other during these live classes. Recordings are also available within 1 business day after the class.  Learn more...

In-Person Location

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

*See our latest COVID Safety Information

Online Info

You will receive the zoom link and any handouts needed a few days before class via email. Check spam and contact if you have not received it within 1 business day of your class/event.

If you have a tasting kit, it may be picked up at San Francisco Wine School or delivered across the US.  Wine parameter lists are available for those participating in locations where kits cannot be delivered.   View pickup and delivery options here.

Wine lists and instructions are included in your kit.  

$1,695pp* Registration Fee Includes

  • 30 hours of live class led by our industry-leading instructors
  • Over 70 beverage tastings throughout the program**
  • Tasting kit creation for online participants (delivery is available across the US for an additional fee
  • In-person tasting & service exam*** fees
  • Access to the Society of Wine Educators Online Wine Academy and the Hospitality Beverage Specialist Certificate Program & Theory Exam
  • Certificate upon successful completion
  • San Francisco Wine School water bottle

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

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

***Exam may be taken online for an additional fee

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 and is taken online. 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.

The Theory Exam is taken online at a time that is convenient for you. We strongly recommend taking the Service and Tasting Exams in-person, however an Online Exam Upgrade is available for an additional fee. Online Service Exam students must supply their own service equipment. Please email for additional information.

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.

All attendees must be 21+ years old. 

Scholarships Available

Are you in need of financial assistance to pay for this program? The Glancy Wine Education Foundation assists those looking to start or advance their career in wine or hospitality with educational scholarships of 60-100% depending on your level of need. Internship opportunites are also available through San Francisco Wine School. Learn More & Apply


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