Somm Essentials (Sommelier Preparation)

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Program Description

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.**

Guided Tasting Exercises

Wine is included in this program.  Students will taste over 40 wines and 12 beers/spirits throughout the course of the program to enhance and reinforce the learning objectives, lectures, discussions, and reading.  All wines are selected by Master Sommelier David Glancy and our instructors to represent a broad sampling of the classic regions and varietals.

Roomers will have wine in their glass in the classroom.  Zoomers will have tasting kits they can either pickup or have delivered for an additional fee.  View wine pickup and delivery options.

Syllabus Overview

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!


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

Enrollment Includes

  • Program Registration
  • In-Person Tasting & Service Exam Fees.  Exam may be taken online for an additional fee
  • Wine & Other Beverage Tastings
  • Access to the Society of Wine Educators Online Wine Academy and the Hospitality Beverage Specialist Certificate Program & Theory Exam
  • San Francisco Wine School Water Bottle
  • Certificate upon successful completion
  • Shipping for tasting kits is available for an additional fee

2022 Session Dates & Times

Session 1 

Sundays 2-5pm
Jan 23 to Apr 10* 
no class Feb 20

Session 2 

Mondays 6-9pm
Sep 26 to Dec 12* 
no class Oct 31

Formats Available

Hybrid - Room/Zoom - NEW!

We've recently invested in some serious AV technology upgrades to create an integrated Hybrid Room/Zoom experience for all students.  Both "Roomers" and "Zoomers" are able to engage with us and each other during these live classes.  Recordings are also available after the class.  Whether you are excited to return to our beautiful venue in person with wine in your glass or are enjoying the convenience of home learning with a tasting kit, you can choose the experience that's right for YOU!  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 Re-Opening & COVID Safety Information


All attendees must be at least 21 years of age

About the Certification Program & Exam

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

Q&A About the Program

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?

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