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Atmosphere Engineer

Woody van Horn | General Manager, Bracero Cocina de Raiz

As we look at our field of work, one of the duties that sets sommeliers apart from the rest of the wine industry is the act of service, which goes hand-in-hand with hospitality.  I would raise the point that a strong element of service is in fact, showmanship. 
From Wikipedia: 
  1. Showmanship, concerning artistic performing such as in Theatre, is the skill of performing in such a manner that will appeal to an audience or aid in conveying the performance’s essential theme or message.
  2. Profitable showmanship frequently appeals to pathos. Showmen aim to display goods with tact in order to sell an object or a show.
As the sommelier profession changes and evolves, and as millennials shape our industry, it is important to respect our past while also improving our industry standards by embracing and guiding this evolution. As the new generation takes over the floor positions, it’s important to mentor the new guard. People who have the heart of a servant and work the floor with passion are very important element this industry. Part of this passion is the “show”. You can tell when someone cooks with passion, the same can be said when someone works the floor with passion. Lets make sure the next generation knows this.  

* It’s marketing, and the next generation of winemakers and wine drinkers depend on us to set the tone and provide the showmanship which is relevant and necessary to our current market. These young sommeliers are in touch with the next generation of wine drinkers. Let’s make sure to mentor them and inspire them to take the reigns.

Teach the future somms to ask themselves:
How in tune are you with your guests? How efficient is service?Is there a wow factor? Is your program profitable?
 As sommeliers, we assist with setting the mood in the same way a chef drives his kitchen.  We set the tone of service with what we bring to lineup in how we compose our list, and ourselves. I have met many sommeliers in my time. Many of them very book smart.  Many of them very entertaining. Only a select few strike a balance of poise, character, knowledge, reputation, sense, grit, and polish. These sommeliers are who have built this legacy, and continue to inspire, include, and mentor. It’s important to teach balance. Winemakers have a similar struggle. As do Chef’s. Acid with sugar. Oak with fruit. Science with nature. Classics with avant garde. History with the comntemporary. Trends with fads. Professionalism with personality.  Knowledge with curiosity. Passion with fame.  Work with personal life.
This is what the sommelier is. So let’s ask:
  • What will we be remembered for?
  • What did we do to advance our profession?

* Our legacy is up to us.


Woody van Horn

Woody van Horn

  • Greg van de velde

    Very nice article! Exactly what we aspire to do on the floor everyday.

    September 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm Reply

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