Somm Essentials

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WINE, SPIRITS, SERVICE, TASTING, PAIRING AND BEYOND: A 10-week program to help students develop a high-performance foundation for all beverage related career tracks.

Somm Essentials offers students a unique convergence of industry and product knowledge with service and tasting skills that are critical to staying competitive in today's hospitality industry. It is also available in a an abbreviated 2-Day Theory, Tasting & Service Intensive format for expedited learning.

The program includes preparation for the Hospitality/Beverage Specialist credential exam from the Society of Wine Educators, but goes far beyond it in scope. We rigorously cover beverage service, blind wine tasting, and food and wine pairing; all areas necessary to move your career to the next level. 

Hands-on workshops also cover education on the fundamental elements, styles, and production techniques of tea, coffee, bottled water, beer, wine, sake, and spirits. The Official Society of Wine Educators' Hospitality Beverage Specialist Study Guide is included as a supplement to proprietary lectures and interactive tasting exercises during each class.

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

Session Dates & Time
Guided Blind Wine Tasting Exercises
Syllabus Overview
About the Certification & Exam
Enrollment includes


Session 1 
Jan 28 - April 15, 2018
**no class 2/18 or 4/1**
10am - 2pm Sundays
Session 2 September 9 - November 11, 2018
10am - 2pm Sundays



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


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?

  • 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

All attendees must be 21+ years

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