Interested in learning more about the duties and requirements of a sommelier? Odie Pineda uncorks the secrets of the fascinating world of fine wines and exquisite taste with MEGA Man
Everyone can say they like wines, but only a select few can claim to be experts because becoming a sommelier is a difficult endeavor that requires dedication and persistence. With the passion to understand the intricacies of this industry, MEGA Man talks to Odie Pineda, a certified sommelier with extensive experience in the field. The connoisseur provided valuable details and insights for aspiring masters, outlining the steps involved and highlighting the qualities necessary to become a wine specialist.
The sommelier’s profile
Odie admitted that, even as a child, he was fascinated by beverages, but he never considered making that passion into a profession. “I rediscovered it in college when I met my beverage management professor who was very inspiring on the topic,” he said.
Years after graduating from UP Diliman, Pineda is now recognized as one of the leading sommeliers in the Philippines. Before achieving this, he embarked on a challenging journey to acquire a series of certifications that would solidify his status as a true wine connoisseur.
He also had the opportunity to represent the country in different international wine competitions. “Being able to represent the country in both the ASI Bootcamp in Malaysia last year and the ASI competition in Japan last November were really big achievements. Passing the CMS Level 2 Certification Exam was just as self-reassuring,” Odie mentioned. Aside from this, he also placed second in the Philippine Sommelier Competition and qualified as a representative for the 2019 South East Asia’s Best Sommelier Competition.
Becoming an expert
After finishing college, Odie got work at a speciality wine shop and restaurant, but he soon learned that this was not enough to help him become an expert in the field. “I realized I knew so little about wines then, so I decided to take further studies and certifications while I was working part-time as a teacher, baker, and wine associate,” he stated.
He had to take tests like the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), and the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), where he passed Level 2 in 2016. The wine master confessed that these certifications, encompassing written exams, service evaluations, blind tastings, and rigorous Q&A sessions, are far from a walk in the park. “Failing one part means you fail the certification and would have to retake it again in the next batch,” Pineda revealed.
Odie pointed out that their duties have progressed and are still evolving throughout the course of the past few years. According to him, a sommelier’s job today entails more than just selling drinks; they must also ensure that diners have a fantastic time.”The responsibilities have changed in the past years, other than maintaining a good wine and beverage list that is profitable for the restaurant, making the guests happy, and complementing the menu for an overall amazing dining experience,” he explained.
He advised that inquisitiveness and an open taste are prerequisites to achieving your objective of becoming a wine specialist. Mastering the art of wine demands a deep comprehension of diverse flavors and their complex interactions, so he emphasized that one must also possess the virtue of patience because acquiring the proper techniques in tasting, service, and theory is a process that requires ample time and dedication.
A sommelier’s quest in the Philippines
Pineda was forthright in saying that he is aware of a large number of Filipino sommeliers who have found greater financial opportunities outside of the country. However, he also acknowledged recent changes in Philippine gastronomy, such as increased wine education and the recognition by chefs and restaurateurs of the value of a sommelier in boosting sales and the quality of the dining experience, opening up new doors for the development of local talents.
Odie, however, believes that this profession is definitely way easier for individuals who have already established themselves. According to him, in general, it is still a challenging industry to break into because many restaurant owners still do not see the value of having sommeliers or may not fully comprehend the nature of the work required to fairly value it.
A toast to knowledge
He ended our wine discussion with a message for those who continue to view sommeliers as something like “glorified servers” or “a basic job.” Odie reiterated that becoming a true master of this craft is a journey that demands dedication, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and a thirst for continuous refinement.