1. Can you give us a brief background on the Sommelier Society of America? When did it start and why? What are its goals? What type of people make up your students – are they industry professionals or simply people interested in wine?
The Sommelier Society of America was founded in 1954 in New York City by a group of sommeliers that wanted to socialize within their cadre; they also wanted to be recognized as uniquely accomplished wine professionals. By creating this professional organization for sharing and exchanging wine knowledge, they also increased the value of their position, their wages and tips. As the Society’s membership grew, they formalized wine education into courses for sommeliers to advance their careers, passionate consumers began taking the courses. Today, mostly industry professionals take our Course, but every session we always have students who are looking for a career change or have a love of wine and want to learn more and be around those who share their passion.
2. What kinds of subjects will students from your program become familiar with?
We cover every wine production region on the planet, with lectures, presentations and benchmark wine selections – all instructed by working sommeliers and wine professionals – nothing is left out of our 23 week Course!
3. During the pandemic, have you had to adjust your learning or make changes to your curriculum?
We had just begun the spring 2020 session when everything shut down; we asked our students if they would like to continue in a virtual classroom, and they did, so we set that up immediately. Fortunately our schedule coincided with phase three of the reopening and we were able to hold in person tasting classes with safety protocols strictly in place. We also worked with our partners to provide a virtual wine tasting. Everyone came together to continue to provide the highest level of wine education. Currently we are in our third session on virtual classes, with great success. In fact we will continue to offer a virtual option for those who cannot attend in person.
4. What impact has working with Stolzle had on the overall experience of your students?
Introducing Stolzle glassware to our students has been an enormously beneficial part of wine education. Right from the first day of class we have all Stolzle glassware samples and decanters displayed. It’s inspiring. Then to taste wines throughout the session further established the significance of glassware and how it enhances the tasting experience.
5. How can people find out more about the Sommelier Society of America?
We are in session virtually all year long, so we are always available to answer any questions about our Course. Visit our website or our posts on social media:
@sommsociety on Instagram
Facebook: The Sommelier Society of America
Recently, the Sommelier Society of America celebrated the final classes before the holiday hiatus with Director of Education Rudiger Eilers (above) giving students an allocation of Stolzle Glassware. Classes start up again for the organization in early January with the final exam set for Feb 11th. Kristy MacDonald, sommelier at famed Chef Thomas Keller's Per Se NY was the instructor for the evening.
With a legacy dating back to 1954, the Sommelier Society of America today is a locus for top-notch wine education courses in New York City. Unlike other certification programs, the SSA course is designed for serious wine professionals who want to study the trade in one of the most thrilling and eclectic wine markets in the world.
Stolzle USA is proud of its relationship with the Sommelier Society of America and looks forward to continuing to support their efforts in wine education.
With their fall session about to begin with all new stemware from the Exquisit line, the Sommelier Society of America and Stolzle have announced a new partnership with Stolzle. Stolzle is now the exclusive glassware for the Sommelier Society of America.
Stay tuned for specials dedicated exclusively for our SSA Alumni and current students.
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