Italian Sommelier Association opposes government registry of wine professionals

Source: ANSA.

A bill has been tabled in the Senate to create an official registry for wine tasters, a fast-growing profession which is also attracting more and more women.

The bill was proposed by Senator Pierfrancesco Gamba of the governing People of Freedom (PdL) party who explained that the registry was needed ”to better define the requisites to become a professional sommelier, a category which today sees people call themselves experts just because they have taken wine tasting courses”.

However, the initiative has run into the opposition of the Association of Italian sommeliers (AIS), which together with the Italian Federation of Sommeliers, Hotel and Restaurant Operators (FISAR) has been issuing diplomas in wine tasting for the past 40 years.

”There is no need for an official registry. I think this bill has been proposed to favor private interest groups, like universities offering degree courses in the food sector, rather than in the interest of the profession,” said AIS Chairman Terenzio Medri.

”The profession of sommelier already exists and we offer a precise training procedure to become an official expert,” he added.

Among those in favor of the registry is the association Citta’ del Vino, whose members are towns which produce fine wines, which believes such an initiative ”will make the whole category of sommelier much more responsible and accountable”.

The association added that the bill should be expanded to set up registries not only for professional wine tasters, but also for those who taste other quality food products like olive oil and cheese.

The profession of sommelier has been expanding at a rate of between 10 and 15% a year and today some 60% are women. The average age of people taking the three-year courses offered by AIS and FISAR is said to be between 18 and 35 and only 40% make it to the end to receive a diploma.

People holding the AIS and FISAR diplomas either find work in hotels and restaurants or set up their own wine bars and restaurants.

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