Do you want to become a qualified sommelier? Here’s how

The South African Sommeliers Association’s Introductory Sommelier Certificate is aimed primarily at those who already work in the industry without formal service or wine qualifications. As the tourism and hospitality industries see a revival, they believe now is the perfect time for aspiring sommeliers to maximise their opportunities.

SASA is recognised internationally by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), the global body responsible for sommelier organisations in over 60 countries worldwide. Their latest qualification, the Introductory Sommelier Certificate, is one-of-a-kind and suitable for service industry professionals at any level.

“We aim to empower the talented professionals that dedicate themselves to the service of food and beverage,” says SASA Chairperson Spencer Fondaumiere. “By providing accessible and affordable qualifications to all levels of experience and expertise, we contribute to the overall level of quality in the industry, uplifting the standard as a whole.”

Erica Taylor, SASA’s Head of Operations, believes the Introductory Sommelier Certificate will be only a stepping stone for aspiring sommeliers. “We envision this course to become the benchmark for starting as a sommelier,” she explains. “Often, after completing one of our certifications, candidates come back for further engagement and qualifications. The ripple effect is that millions of people –whether local or international – experiencing South African hospitality in any establishment will receive proper basic wine service.”


The qualification framework was developed by some of the top minds in the sommelier industry in South Africa, ensuring robust and timely exam content. SASA facilitates the qualifications with courses taught by SASA service providers that teach students what is needed to succeed in the exams.

“The rising tide of more professionals getting certified will translate to an industry-wide increase in general service standards,” Spencer shares. “Consequently, visitors and tourists that enjoy South African hospitality will learn more about and see more of the South African wine landscape while experiencing South African wines served at their very best.”

Introductory Sommelier Certificate need-to-knows

The Introductory Sommelier Certificate costs R500 per person, which includes access to write the exams at one of SASA’s nationwide venues on 31 March 2022. To sit for the exams, attendees must be members of SASA – memberships costs R250 per year.

How diners can support the SASA

Not aspiring to become a sommelier but passionate about wine? You can still support SA’s thriving wine industry by attending food and wine events hosted by SASA. The next one takes place on 24 March, at Culture Wine Bar in Cape Town. Chef Matt Manning will be presenting a three-course wine pairing dinner, which guests will be enjoying while taking part in an exciting live auction of incredible wines. 100% of the proceeds from the event will go directly to helping SASA in its mission to elevate industry service standards and providing a platform for would-be sommeliers to launch their careers by offering a range of qualifications.

Chef Matt Manning and his team at Grub & Vine.

The Gala and Auction Dinner will take place on Thursday 24 March from 6pm at Culture Wine Bar. Tickets cost R795 and include a three-course dinner, canapes and wine. Only 30 tickets are available – so click here to buy yours now.

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