|Not gonna deal with pesky customers no more|
This is something the Court of Master Sommeliers would rather not admit. I've asked the Court repeatedly for stats on how many MSs actually work on the floor in restaurants, and they've never responded.
Fortunately, I recently discovered a page on the Nation's Restaurant News website that lists 55 MSs, and their jobs at the time the page was written.
Of the 55, I can see only 8 who regularly worked the floor when the article was written. Another six might have been on the floor sometimes. That's just 25% combined. And at least 3 of those 14 MSs have moved away from those on-the-floor jobs since the article was written.
It seems like the great majority of Master Sommeliers aren't in restaurants at all anymore, except to eat or, in many cases, peddle wine for the distributor or importer who now signs their checks.
But this situation is at best a waste of much of their training.
Master Sommeliers are supposed to have encyclopedic knowledge of both wine and service. They're supposed to help every guest feel comfortable and find a great wine that fits what that guest needs.
Instead, a lot of them, maybe even the majority, are using their prestige to sell wines without any connection with the end-user who will actually drink them.
It's easy to see how these decisions are made. One of the best bartenders I've ever sat across the mahogany from, Scott Beattie, works for Meadowood resort now as beverage director for events, coming up with cocktail menus for wedding parties. He was a genius behind the bar at Cyrus, and now no customers will ever see him prepare an original drink. But he told me that after many years of standing up all night, he wanted ordinary hours and a job where he could sit down now and then.
Master Sommeliers can't be much different. It has to be more pleasant, not having to wait for the last diner to order wine every night at 11 p.m. Perhaps more lucrative too.
But still. What is the point of being a master at something when you're not actually doing it anymore?
With apologies to all the great people on the list, here's a breakdown of the jobs:
On the floor, at least sometimes
Sommelier at restaurant 8 (yay!)
Beverage director at restaurant or country club 3
Head sommelier at restaurant 2
Sommelier at multi-restaurant hotel
Probably not on the floor
Director of wine and/or beverages at multi-restaurant hotel/facility 4
Restaurant co-owner 2
Sommelier at restaurant chain
Definitely not on the floor
Independent wine consultant 12
Works for wine distributor 8
Winery sales 5
Importer sales 2
Wine store owner 2
Works for Court of Master Sommeliers 2
Grocery store specialty product coordinator
Runs wine school