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Wine education in the wine country

( Télécharger le fichier original )
par Gildas L'HOSTIS
Ecole Supérieure de commerce de Dijon - Mastere spécialisé Commerce Internationale vins et spiritueux 2011

Disponible en mode multipage







Burgundy School of Business



MAI 2011
Burgundy School of Business


France's history is intimately related to wine history and as a wine producing country, wine education has always played an important social part. Being a «connoisseur» has often been a way to express a strong social position and mastering a complex wine semantic, a way to prove that you are knowledgeable, wine tasting belonging more to art than science.

Nowadays wine is at the heart of an economic issue and wine sales in restaurants generate high revenues. It is therefore crucial to demystify this beverage and help the consumers to better understand it. Giving understandable clues to wine drinkers can avoid a social risk for customers when ordering wine. Therefore, a good wine education background is an important step for vocational students to reach the clients' aspirations and it also helps to increase wine revenue in restaurants.

The main goal of this study was to compare the French wine educational system (public programmes taught in hospitality schools) with some other countries around the world (US, UK, Spain and Australia). This research also tried to find out whether it was possible or not to derive some positive aspects from those others countries and include them in the French system.

A quick summary of the different levels of vocational diplomas and sommelier programs in France including wine education in their programme has been carried out.

In France the public education system relies on a strong curriculum also giving standards for wine education and offering a lot of different streams for vocational education.

Study has shown that France probably offers the best type of wine education through different vocational programmes. Students can either undertake a sommelier syllabus or learn about wine through different hospitality programmes. In Foreign countries such as UK and USA students rely more on private courses for wine education and public systems rarely include wine courses in their hospitality programmes. These private programmes achieve great

success in their countries and are internationally recognized; meanwhile France does not offer an internationally based syllabus.

Even if wine studies are important in France, they are not yet sufficient and not in proportion to restaurant wine sales (except for sommelier syllabus). Moreover students following hospitality programmes still face difficulties in learning, as wine courses are sometimes diluted in numerous academic courses. Compared to other countries such as Australia, curricula are sometimes rigid and lack flexibility.

Some positive aspects have been extracted from a survey (Blois hospitality school) given to hospitality students in 2011. Most of them are really concerned about wine and consider that it is important to have great core knowledge when entering the workforce.

Continuing education also has an important role to play. When restaurant owners place emphasis on wine training, staffs are more motivated and that also helps to enhance their career. As a matter of fact, it has been shown that a well-trained waiter gives a good return on investment for the restaurateur as wine sales increase at the same time.

The study has been mainly conducted through quantitative and qualitative research: communication with professionals linked to the wine education sector in both France and foreign countries; literature search(es); web data.

Some poor studies have been conducted on this topic previously. This professional thesis is only a snapshot of wine education in France and in four different countries and does not cover all aspects of wine education. It mainly focuses on public educational systems. Further studies need to be carried out to assess the impact and the relevance of private wine education on the development of sommelier jobs.

Conclusions reflect a personal analysis done on the topic with information gathered during the research. As a result, outcomes can't be considered as a consensus around wine education and does not necessarily express professionals' point of views.

Key words: wine education, wine curriculum, wine syllabus, sommelier, sommellerie, hospitality, hospitality school, waiting jobs



1. Changes in consumption patterns 3

2. Wine tasting and the expert role 4

3. Wine in France : a quick history of sommellerie and wine education 6

3.1. A quick sommelier history 6

3.2. Wine education and consumers 7

4. Wine training an important issue 9

To develop revenue 9

5. A snapshot of wine education through 5 different countries (public educational system. Vocational diplomas) 12

5.1. Australia 15

5.2. USA 16

5.3. England 17

5.4. Spain 17

5.5. Focus on the French wine educational system 20

5.5.1. Sommelier courses 22

5.5.2. Non sommelier courses, hospitality 24

5.6. Outcomes 28

6. Students in hospitality school and wine consumption 33

6.1. Young people and wine consumption 33

6.2. Hospitality students and wine consumption 35

7. Importance of continuing education 40




Wine has always played an important social role in France and with more than two thousand years of wine history, the beverage has always been at the core of French culture. «French wines express a whole range of social relations that refer to a complex and dynamic set of meanings and value» (Demoissier 2005). French people think of wine as something which can't be separated from their own culture. Roland Barthes in «Mythologies» wrote that «The French nation considers wine as a possession and as a totem drink». Wine and fine dining have always been inseparable parents, French gastronomy having been the reference in the world for a long time.

French people have always seen wine as a crucial drink and not only a beverage which quenches one's thirst. Wine is tightly linked to religion and also medicine. In the nineteen century doctors considered wine as good for health (Wolikow 2011), a consensus far from the classic debates which fuel controversy today in France.

The wine market as wine history is not static and constantly evolves. Development should also be the case for wine education and should meet customers and professionals' expectations. Wine sales in restaurants have increased constantly in the recent past and customers tend to have a better knowledge about wine.

A lot of countries now produce outstanding wines and France has to compete with very dynamic foreign markets, where French wines are not necessarily considered as the best. Therefore education should be a way to highlight a wine producing country and should be as important as the wine culture in that country.

The main goal of this study was to compare the French wine educational system (public programmes taught in hospitality schools) with some other countries around the world (US, UK, Spain and Australia). This research also tried to find out whether it was possible or not to derive some positive aspects from these others countries and include them in the French system.

Does France place enough emphasis on wine education? What place do foreign countries give to wine education?

Another important aspect of this study was to find out if French hospitality schools give enough room to wine education in France considering the revenue generated by the beverage's sales in restaurants. Also highlighted were the hospitality students' concerns about wine courses

Recommendations are given at the end of the study. What can be improved in our wine education system?

Some poor studies have been conducted on this topic previously. This professional thesis is only a snapshot of wine education in France and in four different countries and does not cover all aspects of wine education. It mainly focuses on public educational systems. Further studies need to be carried out to assess the impact and the relevance of private wine education on the development of sommelier jobs.

Conclusions reflect a personal analysis done on the topic with information gathered during the research. As a result, outcomes can't be considered as a consensus around wine education and does not necessarily express professionals' point of views.

1. Changes in consumption patterns

In recent years, the wine industry in France has seen important changes in its pattern of consumption. In 1999 people drank about 61 litres of wine per year per capita while in 2009 wine consumption was around 46 litres (France Agrimer stats 2010). In 1980 the level of regular consumers (50.7 %) was higher than for casual consumers (30.1%). Trends have changed and in 2005, the number of casual consumers had increased (41.3 % vs. 20.7 % of regular consumers). The number of non-consumers has also increased recently, reaching 38 % in 2005. It is important to notice that at the same time the level of quality wines drunk (AOP wines, previously AOC) remained constant as the wine consumption of table wine (lower quality) decreased significantly. People drink less but better: according to France Agrimer's statistics, the level of expense per household has increased between 2005 and 2009 (122 € to 131 €).

As in many countries, there is in France willingness for people to become knowledgeable. In parallel with this thirst for knowledge people are eating out more and more. The proportion of people dining in restaurants is much higher than few years ago (source INSEE). Therefore restaurateurs have to focus more on improving levels of service quality and creating customer loyalty. Consumers drink less but want at the same time to be wine educated. In France if the waiter recommends a wine, customers will listen (Tach 2008), compared to other countries such as Australia or Brasil where people are less inclined to take notice of waiters' suggestions. One possible reason is that France has a much older food and wine culture.

In 1995 only 40% of French people knew what the acronym AOC meant (appellation d'origine Contrôlée); in 2005 about 58% gave the right answer when they were asked about the signification of this acronym (source ONIVIN). The knowledge about the AOC has therefore evolved through the last years and people are now more concerned about wine origin.

According to Marie Christine Tarby («Vin et Société» chairman), in an interview with Vitisphère (2011), French people speak about wine twice as much as football! According to a previous poll (IPSOS), 71% of the French people thought that wine made everyday life easier and more festive.

For Olivier Thienot (director of the «Ecole du Vin»), wine knowledge is a way for people to express a good education and «savoir vivre». As an example the young people segment is

now more interested in being wine educated and moreover is open minded when speaking about wine from other countries.

As a result it is important for restaurateurs to assimilate these changes; they need to be really interested in wine education in order to be able to give the right advice to their customers and also sell the appropriate wine.

Table 1. Source : «OIV. Situation of the world viticultural sector in 2007»

2. Wine tasting and the expert role

Expert role

In her thesis «the Quest for Identities: consumption of wine in France» Marion Demossier (2005) raises important questions about the role of experts and professionals as mediators in contemporary French society. Among them, one raised the role of the experts. «Do they play the role of cultural mediators between producers and society or do the experts themselves participate in the social construction of the product?» Nowadays the population of mediators and advisors is increasingly important. Now the erudite are the specialized journalists and

sommeliers. They play an important role and have responsibility in educating people, leading them along the path of knowledge. Some of them are sometimes so influential that they can change the wine grower's destiny, bringing ambiguousness to the role experts have to play.

Sylvie Chollet and Dominique Valentin (2000) said in their thesis that one of the major problems in the field of sensory analysis comes from the necessity to train «experts» in order to describe and assess the product. Therefore that reinforces the need for professionals who are able to carry and transmit the knowledge for a topic which mainly relies on hedonism and self-experience. The main objective is to draw descriptors to assess the wine and therefore create a common semantic usable by everyone.

Therefore, experts have a great role to play in democratizing wine. Wine democratization is probably one of the more important aspects of the contemporary history of wine. To be a connoisseur is linked to social success and thirst of knowledge has never been so important and helps to make the difference between the wine lover and the drinker (most of the drinkers want to become a wine lovers). Even if wine consumption is still a way to express a social difference, however more and more people have access to wine knowledge. Wine consumption now takes place not only at home but in clubs, wine fairs, wine bars and tends to be more ostentatious. «For many observers, wine has become a cultural product and therefore the meanings behind its consumption have altered. For many others, despite these numerous changes, France remains a country symbolically defined by its wines and where everybody knows about wines» (Demoissier 2005).

Wine tasting

Wine tasting, it is not a natural art and has been inherited, constructed according to traditions and periods. «Wine tasting standards have evolved and have been perceived through the elite talks as a product essentially linked to history» (Wolikow 2011). Wine social history is not fossilized and developed from the Roman era to our contemporary history, the wine making art being one day devolved to the clergy and later to the profane. Besides of this evolution, the taste of the wine has also continually changed through the last centuries due to a better knowledge of the wine making processes and one could consider that wine is better now than it was few centuries ago.

Wine assessment has developed through different stages. From the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century wine tasting focused only on the colours and tactile sensations were not used to assess the wine. In the same time wine and food pairing was already an important aspect of the meal.

When the phylloxera occurred in the 19th century there were strong debates about wine taste as at this time frauds were common in the wine trade, consequently it was important to insist on the wine characteristics and not only on the robe to determine a good wine from a bad one. The wine quality concept became essential as a guarantee for the customer of the product and people were aware about the origin of the wine.

At the end of the 19th century, aromas were used to assess wine using analogies with the perfume industry (Wolikow 2011)

3. Wine in France : a quick history of sommellerie and wine education

3.1. A quick sommelier history

The word «sommelier» is a French word which in the beginning described a professional who was in charge of the transportation of supplies. In the fourteen century king Philippe V recognized the job as a profession. The sommelier was responsible for the entire wine service already highlighting a job that would become later tightly linked to French wine culture (UDSF website)

The job really became significant when the first restaurants appeared in France after the Revolution, increasing constantly during the XIX century whilst at the same time gastronomy was booming. The Maître D played a strong role and was sometimes seen as an artist.

The sommelier association was born in 1907 and the Paris sommelier association in 1959. Numerous competitions were created and allowed the profession to be emphasized. In 1961, Jean Chauchee was the first to win the Best French sommelier competition (Brunet 2001).

The 1970's saw a limit in the development of the job, younger people giving up this profession perceived as a job for old people.

The job revived thanks to a few people who were convinced that the profession needed to be highlighted again. All these people helped to create specific levels of wine education programmes for young people, making the job more attractive. Wine training syllabuses were created by the Minister of Education, giving the opportunity for everyone to access this profession.

1996 was an important date. A close collaboration between the French National Education and the UDSF (Union de la Sommellerie Française) allowed the renewal of the two sommelier courses: Mention complémentaire (sommelier certificate) and the Brevet professionnel sommelier (sommelier diploma). Professionals took an important role in the development of the training scheme.

At the same time connections between students and restaurant owners were enhanced and helped to increase the employment of sommeliers. (Brunet 1996)

The seventies and eighties saw an increasing numbers of hospitality schools in France whilst tourism at the same time developed.

Regarding restaurant service it is important to underline that France has always had a waiting culture as opposed to English speaking countries, it was therefore important to train students to serve customers using appropriates techniques.

According to the FAFIH (Fond assurance Formation de l'Industrie hôtelière), a French professional fund in charge of continuing education, there are nowadays about 1500 sommeliers in France. Most of the time in restaurants, the Maître d'hôtel is in charge of the wine selling. The average wage per month for a sommelier in France is about 1980 € (while a waiter is paid about 1570 €)

3.2. Wine education and consumers

For many years wine education focused more on product knowledge than on staff training, selling techniques or wine service (Jones and Dewald 2006). People sometimes see the sommelier or the waiter as someone who is somehow unapproachable, daunting, only giving the impression that «he knows the truth and you don't». According to Ferran Centelles (Head sommelier at El Bulli restaurant in Spain) sommeliers need to work on communication and make things easier for consumers.

Paradoxically and if wine consumption is decreasing people are aware about the taste of wine and want to know more about it. Wine is now becoming more accessible and people going to restaurants no longer want to be overwhelmed with information but want understandable words to explain the wine characteristics, and wine and food pairing suggestions. As a result, it is crucial to emphasise the teaching methods on communication, making wine and the job more democratic.

The French vineyard is difficult to understand even for French people as it offers a huge variety of different wines, appellations, coming from a wide range of vineyards. Consequently consumers are often lost when they face this vast amount of information, which increases the perceive risk when they purchase wine (Amine, Lacoeuilhe 2007). In order to reduce this perceive risk, consumers rely on mediators (sommeliers, wine merchants...) whose duty is to explain the product and make it more understandable. As a result the main task for educators is to focus on consumers' needs and therefore train mediators who will be able to turn a sometimes unreadable beverage into a more understandable one.

The sommelier has a big influence as a marketer and he is at the same time a wine ambassador who possesses the knowledge.

The buying process for the customer in restaurants is still difficult. If a low overall level of perceived risk is noted in the wine purchase decision-making process in high quality restaurants (Lacey 2009), ordering wine is always socially risky and is considered as a high involvement process for the customer. Because the environment of consumption is most frequently a social gathering (Judica and Perkins 1992), wine becomes a means to social recognition. Therefore it is important for the guest to be helped in order to avoid the guess work when ordering wine (Wansink, Glenn, Payne, Geiger, 2006) and consequently prevents an awkward situation for the guest who decides which wine will be drunk during the meal. The waiter or the sommeliers have an important role to play, through understandable recommendations, to make the order become the good one for the guests. The real art of selling is finding out what people want and then helping them get it (Dewal, Jones 2006)). The role of the sommelier is to meet the customers' expectations.

4. Wine training an important issue

To develop revenue

According to Dewal and Jones «Wine training has been shown to increase wine sales in fine dining restaurants like the Disneyland Resort's Napa Rose. Michael Jordan, who has led the operations at Napa Rose, has undertaken an ambitious wine training programme for his staff. Currently, 34 of the restaurant's 75 staff members are certified as sommeliers (Wine Spectator, 2004). Jordan believes that this training translates in increased wine sales and a growing local customer base. Because of this personal wine training their staff turnover is virtually nonexistent».

«Sommeliers play an important role in influencing the sale of wine in restaurants, in particular, in smaller restaurants and in fine dining restaurants. Focusing on value for money, winery reputation, type of variety and tracking customer preference are all critical factors that respondents considered when selecting wines and when recommending wines to customers» (Dewal, Jones. 2006).

Selling wine in restaurants can undoubtedly help to significantly increase revenue. Employing a sommelier could have good impact on wine sales and generates a great return on investment (Passot, 2011). It could increase the revenue from fifteen to twenty eight per cent. Wine sales in restaurants in France represent about forty per cent of the total revenue and generate about seventy per cent of the total margin. Antoine Petrus (best young French sommelier) considers that revenue could be much higher with good selling techniques.

In USA in 2008 (Veseth 2008), trends significantly showed that wine sales became more and more important in restaurants as 70% of restaurants reported that wine was a larger percentage of their total sales in 2007 compared to 2006 and more and more restaurants were aware about wine. «Smart restaurateurs and their sommeliers take advantage of the wine boom by offering interesting and hard-to-find wines, which attract wine enthusiast diners and generate higher revenues.

All traditional restaurants do not obviously need a sommelier; waiters can also have good wine selling techniques. It is important to notice that there is a return on investment when the waiters are able to promote wines and that the customers unless eating in a fine dining restaurant do not necessarily expect a sommelier in all restaurants. With a few

recommendations on wine and food pairing for example, based on the wine list and the menu, customers are more likely to order wine. «Using a twelve week field experiment in a restaurant, Wansink et al. (2006) estimated that wine food pairing recommendations increased wine sales of the targeted wines by 44.5%» (Sirieix, Remaud 2010)

In France some restaurants owners tend to undervalue the benefit of wine selling as they don't have any or have poor wine education. Traditional restaurants are sometimes unaware of the wine issue and have a wine list only because it is probably necessary to offer few wines to their customers. Restaurant chains sometimes offer only a limited wine list and moreover often don't suggest local wines even if the restaurant is situated in a wine producing region.

For staff confidence

The main problem when speaking with young students learning at the hospitality school (regardless of sommelier courses) is that they are sometimes as shy as their customers to speak about wine, considering that their knowledge is not good enough to advise the guests. There is a strong trend in France which consists of saying that you have to be an expert to speak about wine. With a minimum of training and a good knowledge of the wine list, everyone can be able to say at least if the wine is strong, light, or dry and give some clues to the wine and food pairing. If training is carried out on wine selling techniques and focuses on the wine list attributes, staffs become more confident and help to increase wine sales. According to Ben Salisbury (Dewald, Jones 2006) Vice President of Global Account Development Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates, most wine training fails because there is too much emphasis on «wine knowledge» that no one remembers. Simple wine selling techniques can be taught by anyone, regardless of their knowledge.

Restaurants owners sometimes want to highlight wine lists with too many wine references without thinking about their staff's skills, therefore, wine knowledge should be proportional to the wine list.

«The success of wine sales in restaurants partly depends on the knowledge level of employees and managers. In order to effectively purchase and market wine, the restaurant employees and the managers need to possess the necessary knowledge about their products. For this reason, wine-service training is an important part of the entire process of purchasing and marketing wine at restaurants» (Gultek, Dodd, 2006)

On the contrary staff who have poor wine knowledge may sometimes communicate wrong information about wine and also on wine and food pairing, resulting in complaining guests. Qualified staff really helps to highlight the restaurant's attributes for the guests. Employee attitude, behavior, and work effort has a high impact on service quality, satisfaction, and

customer retention in the service industry (Stamper, Van Dyne, 2003; Davidson, 2003; Schneider, Bowen, 1993).

Restaurant owners should consider that continuous training helps to improve wine sales and moreover can help to avoid staff turnover.

Good wine instruction can have a good impact on the waiter's career. Restaurant owners are more likely to employ a waiter who has great competencies in wine service and wine knowledge. «Wine training is a career enhancement activity and therefore can be considered as continuing education. Career enhancement activities can help employees with their career transitions, such as entering a new organization or transferring within an organization» (Gultek 2003).

A well trained staff can also help to draw up the wine list and therefore be involved in the wine purchase process. Giving responsibilities to the staff is an important aspect of the corporate culture and allows them to share the company values and goals.

Everyone is able to bring a plate to the guest. Giving recommendations about wine and food pairing and serving the wine with good technique is a little bit more complicated but not impossible. When the staffs are well trained and are knowledgeable about wine it helps them to view the job differently and also helps to put special emphasis on their career. Guest attitude towards waiters is quite different if the staffs are knowledgeable or not about wine. Wine service technique can also improve the quality of the wine. As an example, pouring a wine in carafe takes no more than three minutes but can have a dramatic impact on the perception of the wine by the customers.

5. A snapshot of wine education through 5 different countries (public educational system. Vocational diplomas)







Wine consumption

22.3 (increasing)

53.8 (decreasing)

30.8 (decreasing)

20.9 (increasing)

9 (increasing). Source :

per capita (2006 source OIV)


Trade data and analysis


Wine courses are electives in

Wine courses are

Wine courses are

No specific courses in the


syllabus (state)

all levels of education.

mandatory and included in
all levels of the syllabus.

included in syllabus and
are mandatory

mainstream education

No specific, common programs, but some college


- Certificate II in hospitality


- Diploma in food and

or university offer whether


- Certificate III in hospitality

- CAP (Certificat

- Grado medio servicios

beverage operations :

elective units through


- Certificate IV in hospitality

d'aptitude professionnel) (2 years program) (1800

en restauracion

120 hours through the

table drink service

hospitality programs or sometimes a full wine


- Diploma in hospitality

hours + training period)

2 years studies. (2000

- BTEC levels 4 and 5

program including wine


- Baccalauréat

hours including

higher national

service (e.g. Santa Rosa


- Advanced diploma of

professionnel and Brevet

training period)

certificate: beverage

Junior college). Emphasis



de technicien (3 years


preparation and service

is also done on wine



- Grado superior

(unit 5: food and

foreign countries


Hospitality students can

- BTS (brevet de


beverage operations


graduate without studying

technicien supérieur) (2

A complete unit of 5


Hospitality programs are



or 3 years programme)

hours per week on the

Elective). Apply

mainly undertaken at


Students often come back to


second year

sensory evaluation



study wine while in the

An average of 1 hour per

(sommellerie). Wine

techniques to assess


workforce (e.g. : WSET)

week devoted to wine (apart

service is done on the

beverage acceptability

Degrees or non-degrees


Special unit on international wines (only in Sydney for the moment)

wine service in restaurant) Minimal courses on international wines

first year

(unit 27. Elective) (source : edexcel)



Sommelier courses

Only in Sydney (TAFE) : Certificate III in hospitality specialised in the role of sommelier

- Mention complémentaire

sommellerie (certificate)

- Brevet professionnel sommelier (advanced diploma)

- University degree in

sommellerie (Pablo Olavide university. Seville). Great

emphasis is done on foreign vineyards.

(fees around 2000 €). It is not compulsory to have an hospitality background

- Sommelier and wine

culture courses (Logrono)

Only through private programs

Private schools.

Wine evaluation and

service certificate (not only dedicated to the sommelier job) (Santa Rosa Junior College)

Waiting culture

No waiting culture. Waiters are usually university students. Waiting as a career is not officially recognised

Waiting is strongly linked to the food culture (e.g. :

Vatel). But the job is now less attractive and no longer seen as enhancive as before


Not seen as an attractive job. Perceived as a servile job

No waiting culture


Sommelier Australia (ASI

Union De la Sommellerie

Unión de Asociaciones

The Academy of Food and

Sommelier society of



Française (UDSF) (ASI member)

Españolas de Sumilleres (UAES) (ASI observer)

wine service (ASI member)


United States sommelier association

American sommelier association

Legal drinking age


16 (changing)


18 (16, 17 with a meal)


Number of WSET centres (source :






private schools, programs

Court of Master sommelier, WSET

Few private sommelier courses.

WSET. The Macon Davayé School is the only public school in France which authorized to prepare 3 different levels of the WSET exam (included diploma)


The Wine Academy of Spain (TWAS) is a private organisation devoted to the promotion of the Spanish wines

WSET (accredited by the QCA)

Importance of the Master of wine

Society of wine educators (non-profit organization) International sommelier guild (Master sommeliers similar title as master of wine in UK and Sommelier diploma program, 6 month International program)

5.1. Australia

«In Australia education is delivered through a network of Training Packages designed for each industry. The package is the Tourism Hospitality and Events Training Package and has a number of qualifications leading to job outcomes.» (Clive Hartley Senior Head Teacher, Food & Beverage/Event Management TAFE, Sydney).

- Waiting as a career is not officially recognised as an apprenticeship by the government - Only few restaurants can afford to employ a sommelier. The role is usually taken by the owner or the restaurant manager

- Wine lists in many suburbia and country towns are very small and offer only local wines

- Wine consumption per capita : 22.3 (2006)

- The hospitality industry has never officially recognised the job (sommelier). - Many Australians tend to find the sommelier intimidating.

- Things are changing and the Sommelier Association is becoming more important - Hospitality students can graduate without studying wine

- Each qualification is devised and discussed by bodies with representatives in the hospitality industry. The number of wine units are increasing

- Students leaving the courses do not have the skills and knowledge to be able to talk confidently about wine

- Customers in Australia are becoming more knowledgeable and that can be a disadvantage for the students

- Students come back to college to pick up specialist knowledge on wine and enrol in short courses

Advanced diploma of hospitality:

28 core units must be completed

15 elective units must be completed

Career opportunities: food and beverage manager, executive chef...

Wine courses are electives:

- Serve food and beverage to customers 110 hours

- Provide food and beverage service 80 hours

- Provide table service of alcoholic beverages 50 hours

- Conduct a product tasting for alcoholic beverages 40 hours - Provide specialised advice on imported wines 40 hours

- Provide specialised advice on Australian wines 40 hours - Manage the sale of service of wine 80 hours

Table 2. Source: Assessment guide diploma Tafe

5.2. USA

- No waiting culture, most of the restaurant employees (except for managers) do not have hospitality background (except for gastronomic restaurants)

- In the hospitality industry, waiting jobs are not recognized. Specialization begins at the university (Mériot 2000) which gives higher status

- No specific national programme, no specific link with any education programme - Becoming a sommelier is paradoxically easier as people do not necessarily need a

hospitality background to apply for a job and can easily find a sommelier course

(private programs)

- The American hotel and restaurant industry does not require a particular certificate or diploma to hold the position (Dewald, Jones. 2006) of sommelier or wine steward in a restaurant or hotel

- To move from one job to another is easier and common in USA - Wine consumption is prohibited under 21

- Strong influence of the Society of wine educators and Master of Wine. Programmes

are internationally based and focus on all vineyards around the world

- International sommelier Guild offers an education certified curriculum - American sommeliers are very efficient on wine selling

- Importance to achieve the goals that have been set in term of revenue - US sommeliers are aware about customer's expectations

- The restaurant industry is the second largest employer in the United States

5.3. England

- No specific national programme, no specific link with any education program - Diploma in food and beverage operations : table drink service

- A lot of sommeliers are French sommeliers in fine dining restaurants

- BTEC levels 4 and 5 higher national certificate: beverage preparation and service (unit

5: food and beverage operations management. Elective). Apply sensory evaluation

techniques to assess beverage acceptability (unit 27. Elective) (source : edexcel) - WSET is prominent (but does not offer a sommelier programme)

- Master of Wine is recognized as the highest achievement in the global wine community around the world (source :

5.4. Spain

- Hospitality and tourism are linked together. Wine courses as in France are included in all syllabuses.

- Interest in wine courses is increasing

Gradio medio servicios en restauration (certificate)

- 2 years studies

- Wine programme is clearly integrated in the overall curriculum as a complete unit

(basic knowledge of oenology, supplying, wine tasting, wine list, service). A part of

the apprenticeship is devoted to foreign countries. 120 hours (second year) - Wine apprenticeship is carried out in the second year

- Career opportunities : waiter, sommelier assistant

- For people above 16 years old

- Food and beverage service

- Wine and service

- Communication techniques

- Serve wine and give basic information

Table 3. Source:

Grado superior restauracion

The course is devoted to people wanting to work as managers in restaurants, food and beverage managers. 2000 hours.

- Can be compared to an advanced diploma

- Cooking

- Pastry

- Service (225 hours, including wine). Geography, oenology, transport, wine and food pairing, wine tasting.

- Sommellerie is an important unit in the second year (5 hours per week) - Marketing

- Foreign language

Table 4. Source :

5.5. Focus on the French wine educational system

In France four main different curricula are dedicated to hospitality, in all syllabuses wine takes a small part among all units (an average of one hour per week, plus wine service in restaurant):

- Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnel restaurant (CAP) (certificate): 2 years study. Focus on restaurant service only

- Baccalauréat Professionnel restaurant (BP) (diploma): now three years study (previously 2 years). Focus on restaurant service only

- Baccalauréat Technologique (BTN) (diploma): 3 years study. Focus on three different core units : hotel, cooking and restaurant service

- Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) (advanced diploma): 2 years study. Focus on food and beverage management

Two specific sommelier programmes are offered in the Ministry of Education for students who want to work as a sommelier (or chef sommelier for the diploma) in a restaurant or a wine cellar:

- Mention Complémentaire sommellerie (certificate) : 1 year study

- Brevet professionnel de Sommelier (diploma) : 1 year study


Food and beverage management (advanced
2 years study or 3 for student enrolling after
an academic exam (A level)


Hotel management, cooking, restaurant
service (diploma)
3 years study

Restaurant service or cooking (diploma)
3 years study (previously 2 years)


Restaurant service or cooking (certificate)
2 years study


1 year programme (diploma)

1 year programme (certificate)


Hospitality programs Sommelier programs

All vocational programmes are normally drawn up by a committee (commission paritaire mixte), composed of professionals, teachers and experts from the Educational ministry. Theoretically there is a strong link between the restaurateurs, sommeliers and the government to change or improve the syllabus. All programmes are national structured programmes.

Curricula are supposed to be closed to the professional expectations and respect at the same time a number of hours devoted to academic education (Geography, history, applied science, mathematics, laws courses, arts, sports, French, English, second foreign language, management ...). However some of these courses are closely linked to the vocational courses, such as finance in the hospitality industry

As in numerous countries, such as Spain or Australia for example, continuing education and apprenticeship also play a fundamental role in training students

Theoretically (some well-known sommeliers such as Antoine Pétrus didn't follow any specific sommelier courses), it is not possible to get a sommelier job if you don't first take a

vocational diploma. Students have to acquire basic knowledge in restaurant service techniques and after only choose to specialise in sommellerie.

However the French private school «Le Cordon Bleu» was the first in 2009 and the only one to offer an internationally based sommelier programme open to everyone. The curriculum has been quoted on the «Mention complémentaire sommellerie» (certificate), a French public sommelier syllabus. The one year programme is carried out in French and translated into English. Fees are around 13000 €.

5.5.1. Sommelier courses

Mention complémentaire sommelier (certificate in sommellerie)

Entry requirement: vocational diploma (certificate, diploma, advanced diploma) Curriculum dates back to 1996

Sommelier curriculum



Oenology 2h/week

The vine, the grape, the must, fermentations,

winemaking process, new winemaking techniques, the wine (composition, evolution, wine storage)

Others beverages 1h30/week

Fortified wines, liquors, spirits, non-alcoholic drinks

Vineyards 6h/week

The French vineyard :Wine history in France, natural and human aspects, «the terroir», wine regulations, wine and gastronomy

Foreign vineyards (name and location of a few foreign wines)

Wine tasting 6h/week

Wine tasting mechanisms

wine tasting methods : interpretation according to the professional context, comments, marketing

Legislation 0.5h/week

Related to the drink elaboration process, transport, sales practices, hygiene and security

Finance in the in the hospitality
industry, applied to
sommellerie 1h/week

Business understanding, supplies, how to set prices, cost

Communication and selling
techniques 5h/week

Attitude, appearance, communication in a foreign language (English), customer's needs, sales techniques, written communication, computing

English 2h/week


Source: référentiel Education Nationale

About 60 hospitality schools in France offer this syllabus.

No specific courses are devoted to foreign vineyards

Brevet Professionnel sommelier

After this program students can reach a higher diploma (Brevet professionnel sommelier, equivalent to an advance diploma) which gives a strong qualification in sommellerie.

5.5.2. Non sommelier courses, hospitality

CAP restaurant. 2 years courses (certificate in restaurant service)
Training periods: 6 and 8 weeks

Career opportunities




Vocational courses (hours/week) ( restaurant service)

General courses (hours/week)

1st year



2nd year




Professionals units are weighted 18 Academic units are weighted 7

Source : référentiel Education National

Vocational courses focus on restaurant service (food, bar, wine service) and theoretical courses (including wine knowledge). At the end of the courses students can either enter the workforce or go to a Baccalauréat professionnel (diploma)

Wine courses programme:

- Vine and grape (basic)

- Winemaking process (basic)

- The French vineyard (location and main appellations)

- Wine storage - Wine service - Wine tasting (recognised the main wine spoilage)

Baccalauréat professionnel restaurant. 2 years studies. (Diploma in restaurant service)

Entry requirements: 2 years hospitality program (BEP)

Career opportunities

Chef de rang, Head waiter



Vocational courses (hours/week) (restaurant service)

General courses (hours/week)

1st year



2nd year




Professional units are weighted 7 General units are weighted 17

Source: référentiel Education Nationale

At the end of the courses students can either enter the workforce or continue for a Brevet de technicien supérieur (advanced diploma), or a specialized vocational course (e.g. pastry).

Wine courses programme

- Connection between wine characteristics and climate, soil, winemaking process - French wines

- European wines (major appellations)

- Wine tasting (basic)

- Wine and food pairing

The syllabus of the Baccalaureat Professionnel is now changing, and instead of a two years study, students will stay at school three years and they can directly access to the programme after secondary school.

Regarding wine courses (apart wine service), students will learn oenology the first year (13.5 hours/year), in the second year 13.5 hours are dedicated to the French vineyard and only around 4 hours (per year) for wine tasting. On the last year focus is on the European vineyard (12 hours), completed by three or four wine tasting sessions.

Baccalauréat technologique. 3 Years studies

Entry requirement: secondary school Training period: 16 weeks

Career opportunities

Students normally take furthers studies



Vocational courses (hours/week) (cooking, service, hospitality)

General courses (hours/week) (philosophy, French, history, geography, foreign languages (2), mathematics, laws, economy, finance in the hospitality industry, applied sciences, sport

1st year



2nd year



3rd year




Professional units are weighted 8.5 academic units are weighted 23

This curriculum is normally dedicated to students wanting to go on a «Brevet de Technicien supérieur» (equivalent to an advanced diploma). Students at the end of the exam are not supposed to enter the workforce. The core units are articulated around a majority of academic courses. Theoretically students, at the end of their studies, can either continue in the vocational system or leave for university. In the programme, vocational courses tend to have a minor influence on an important numbers of academic courses. More over this syllabus focuses on flexibility: Hospitality, cooking and restaurant service are studied during the three year programme. That often results in poor basic knowledge in technical fields at the end of the studies.

Wine education is consequently poorly represented in the core study, with very few hours the first year. In the second year, focus is on oenology and the French vineyards, through theoretical courses (1 hour per fortnight). Students are supposed to learn a sample of the French appellations, how to make wine, grape varieties, wine and drinks policies. One or two

wine tastings are done in the second year. During the restaurant service they also acquire basic wine service techniques (6 hours per fortnight dedicated to restaurant service)

In the last year, wine is still learned mainly through restaurant service, but very few wine tastings are done, which implies very poor wine knowledge at the end of the 3 years programme.

Brevet de Technicien Supérieur restauration B (advanced diploma. Cooking and restaurant

Entry requirement: Baccalauréat technologique, baccalaureat professionnel, Mise à niveau Training period: 16 weeks

Career opportunities

Restaurant manager, head waiter, chef



Vocational courses (hours/week) (cooking and service management)

General courses (hours/week) (French, foreign language (2), economics, finance in the in the hospitality industry, marketing, applied sciences

1st year



2nd year




Professional units are weighted 9 Academic units are weighted 11

Source : référentiel Education Nationale

Wine courses

Students are supposed to have a minimum of knowledge of wine at the entry of the course. Therefore there is not a specific programme devoted to wine even if they still learn through different courses such as restaurant service. Very few hours (1 or 2) are dedicated to the foreign vineyard.

Some of the students stay at the hospitality school for five years (3 years Baccalauréat Technologique plus 2 years Brevet de Technicien Supérieur). As a matter of fact, really poor outcomes in wine knowledge are acquired when entering the workforce.

5.6. Outcomes


It is at a first sight, difficult to find a positive aspect in the public wine education system in USA. Indeed, there is no specific framework for wine education, even if at the top level the Master of Wine or the society of wine Educators plays a great role in wine knowledge development. On the other hand (possibly due to the fact that USA is a huge country with a high density of population) there are numerous sommelier associations, which can't help but draw up homogeneous programmes and find a consensus around the wine syllabus. However and even if the time dedicated to wine education is not for the moment important, René Roger (Teacher at the Lausanne Hotel School and at Washington State University) has noticed that the American sommeliers are really good at wine selling as they are probably more aware of customers' expectations than French professionals. He also considers that sometimes the French sommeliers do not focus enough on guest's needs. Paradoxically and even if there is no specific programme for wine training, one positive aspect in US is that it seems to be easier to get a sommelier job even if employees don't have a previous hospitality background. Things are less rigid than for the French system and it is easier to change from a job to another.


Spain is maybe closer to the French system and wine courses are clearly included in all vocational programmes even if there is apparently no programme dedicated to sommellerie only. However and if Spain does not offer a sommelier syllabus, the word «sommellerie» is clearly written on the Grado superior curriculum and students have five hours of courses (compulsory) in their programme. Further studies need to be implemented to find out if the courses clearly lead to a good wine comprehension at the end of the courses and therefore if students become confident enough when selling wine at the restaurant.


Regarding Australia and according to Clive Hartley (Senior Head Teacher, Food & Beverage/Event Management in TAFE, Sydney), the country still offers very few wine courses through the mainstream. However, there are some clear elements which demonstrate that wine education takes a more and more important place in the syllabus. Oddly, wine courses are elective and anyone can do a hospitality programme without speaking about wine during the studies. However, the first sommelier courses have been implemented in Sydney and that can be considered as an important step for a country which wants to play a major role amongst the most important wine producing countries. Clive Hartley also points out that «students often come back to school to pick up wine courses while they are working in restaurants, and they mainly take internationally based programs (WSET) as they consider their Australian knowledge is good enough. Australians generally travel around to wines regions and also go to numerous wine tastings to pick up their knowledge in this area»


In England, the country where the WSET arose, and where wine consumption is still increasing it appears that wine education is not clearly integrated in hospitality programmes. According to Arnaud Goubert, Head Sommelier at the «Manoir aux Quat Saisons» (two star restaurant in Oxford), that is one of the reasons why so many French sommeliers are now employed in UK. In 2010 Christopher Delalonde was awarded the «Best sommelier of England», the second place taken by another French, Johann Jousselin.

Legal drinking may be seen as a curb in the development of wine education and the lack of waiting culture is probably a second important element which could have a negative impact on the wine apprenticeship. Moreover, England is not really a producing country (even if there are now vineyards in the south of the country) and increasing wine sales are probably not seen as a priority.

However and as noticed above, wine consumption is increasing significantly, people are becoming more and more wine educated and a lot of outstanding English sommeliers are Master of wine or even have been awarded Best Sommelier of the World (such as Gérard Basset) . As in many countries the main issue is probably not to have outstanding sommeliers (England already has good sommeliers) but to train people who are more likely to sell wine in traditional restaurants (everyone is not supposed to become a master sommelier)

France positive aspects of the wine education framework

In comparison to the different countries studied in this thesis, the French educational system apparently offers a better place and pays more attention to wine education through its national vocational programmes; Spain also integrates wine courses in its hospitality curricula. All syllabuses in France include wine courses and wine education generally begins early, sometimes in the first year of studies. Differences in wine culture exist and that could partly explain why countries such as France are always focused on wine education.

One of the main positive aspects is that through the public educational system students do not have to pay to take the courses (only small fees are asked each year). «France has high national standards and one of France great strengths is that unlike the USA or Britain, the best schools are public rather than private» (Gumbel, 2011). This can explain why France has for a long time developed great wine programmes in public hospitality schools which are nationally recognized. In other countries such as UK or USA, wine courses are often quite expensive

and are only offered through private programmes which even if they are attractive could have a negative impact on student's choices.

When students have to rely on private courses and consequently have to pay for wine education (or wine courses fees are supported by restaurant owners), continuing education has to play a significant role, and must offer affordable courses to people wanting to enhance their wine knowledge. Wine sales improvement obviously can be seen as the corollary of a good wine education which is also a way to highlight a wine producing country.

Regarding the sommelier curricula, one the main differences between the countries is that France offers through the public educational system two strong curricula devoted to sommellerie (certificate and diploma). Apparently there is still a demand for sommeliers in restaurants and even sometimes restaurants face a shortage of professionals while they look for a sommelier (according to French sommelier teachers). These programmes give high competencies to students willing to work as sommeliers and they are all likely to find a job at the end of their studies. The curriculum meets the professional requirements. Students can not only work in restaurants but they also can be employed in wine shops or work in the wine tourism industry.

Moreover, French sommeliers are often employed abroad and their higher qualifications are appealing for outstanding restaurants.

Wine consumption policies possibly play an external and significant role in the wine education framework. It is allowed in France (at least for the moment) to deliver wine courses even if students are under 18 (and also do wine tasting), which is not possible in many countries such as UK and moreover USA where obviously wine syllabus can't be offered to students studying hospitality. That is the same for Australia and that is one of the reasons people have to come back to school whilst in the workforce to learn wine.

In addition to legal the drinking age, it seems that there is a clear correlation between countries which consider waiting as a recognized job (e.g. France) and countries with no waiting culture and where waiting jobs are more devoted to students wanting to earn money to pay for their studies.

France negative aspects of the wine education framework

Regarding sommeliers programmes and compared to others countries, the principal negative aspect of these curricula is that they don't give room for foreign vineyards, which could give more credibility to the programme on a world scale. That tends to restrain the access to world wine knowledge. The main argument given by French sommeliers and sommeliers educators in favour of these curricula is that students have first to know in details the French vineyard

before learning wine from others producing countries and programmes are not extendable. In Australia, a big vineyard, wine courses mainly focus on foreign vineyards as students consider that their Australian knowledge are good enough. According to Gérard Basset (best world sommelier. Interview, French sommeliers have poor foreign wine knowledge as they don't sell them in their restaurants.

At the moment no public curriculum exists for students willing to undergo foreign wine training and they have no choice but to take private programmes such as WSET programme (if they speak English).

Another drawback is that these vocational curricula (sommelier) are highly interdependent and people wanting to take a sommelier course have first to pass a hospitality course.

Despite the emphasis apparently placed on wine education, the French system has probably shown its limits (mainly for the hospitality programmes). It is important to underline that only few restaurant employ sommelier. As a result the mediators in most of restaurants are the waiters, therefore emphasise must be done on wine education trough hospitality programmes.

Even and if apparently the country pays more attention than others to wine education, the time (except for the sommelier syllabus) devoted to wine courses is not proportional to the revenue generated by wine sales in restaurants and is not also proportional to the wine culture level that France often claims. All vocational programmes in France tend to keep a high level of academic disciplines but forget that it is essential to keep close to the hospitality industry's needs and therefore should reinforce the vocational courses. Consequently learning outcomes are not significant enough to consider that the number of hours is sufficient and also that the learning process suits to the students' needs. Moreover, students sometimes stay thirty five hours at school (while hospitality students in Australia spend 20 hours per week at school), struggling with more than ten different courses. Therefore they obviously have difficulties in picking up all information.

«One way to ensure that educational programmes are reflective of the needs of employers and the practical environment is through curriculum development...» (Bryant, 2005).

Even regarding practical courses it is quite surprising to see that some old restaurant techniques are still learned in hospitality programmes, even if they are totally inadequate with new restaurant practices. As an example, students still learn to carve a chicken in front of the guest or prepare flamed peaches. These techniques are no longer used in restaurants and students lose time and sometimes struggle to learn something which won't be useful in the workplace when they need competencies to sell wine.

In France most of the hospitality programmes date back to the nineties and rely on the past and perhaps are no longer in adequate for market needs. It is still difficult for France to fix its school system (Gumbel, 2010) and arguably it could be inspired by others countries where programs are more flexible. France has always focused on a content based learning system (often opposed to the Outcome-based learning system) which sometimes tends to make the syllabus rigid and the students passive (Bowman 2007).

After the exam, students have not necessarily developed sufficient wine skills and still need to improve their basic knowledge. After a three year programme, which focuses on the vineyard, appellations, oenology..., a lot of students still don't know how to suggest a basic wine and food pairing to the customer.

That raises questions about the pertinence of the learning process which can be sometimes qualified as an old fashioned way to learn. We tend in France to overwhelm learners with too

much information, sophisticated vocabulary and semantics, which doesn't help them to express their own opinion on wine.

Since 2000 the number of students wanting to enrol in a specific programme for restaurant service has decreased (in Journal de l'Hôtellerie 24/01/2011). Young students see the job as servile and it is probably easier to integrate a cooking culture than a wine culture. It is crucial now to promote all waiting jobs and demonstrate that to serve a customer not only relies on the ability to give a plate to the guest. Being wine knowledgeable is a way to enhance the job and can make the difference for the guest. Wine is still seen as a cultural product in France and playing the mediator between the wine industry and the guest can be a way to give value to the job and make it more attractive.

6. Students in hospitality school and wine consumption

It seems that young hospitality students face difficulties in learning about wine and that they are not confident enough when entering the workforce to advise the customers. Therefore it was important in this study to analyse their feelings towards wine and wine culture. It is necessary to understand that they are the next wine prescribers and as a result they should be concerned by the learning process.

6.1. Young people and wine consumption

In France, in 2000, only 39% of young people (20 to 24 years old) were occasional drinkers while 57% were non consumers (HIIIInsIn° 75 July-august 2000). Twenty years ago they were around 70% who drank wine. In the nineties, the young generation had a lower wine consumption frequency than the previous generations which drank wine on a more frequent basis. Nowadays wine is absent at young adults parties and only champagne is served occasionally (Lecoin, Hallaire 2007). The family unit used to play a great role in wine consciousness and if it is probably still the case, adults wine consumption has decreased significantly these last years and wine is less represented in the daily meal. If wine is still inseparable from the French food culture, its symbolic representations have evolved through the ages.

Lecoin and Hallaire point out that young people (15 to 25 years old) have a complex relation with wine, a drink which reflects the adult's world and which is often thought as luxury product. They also tend to find it difficult to understand and it is true that only a small number of marketers try to focus on this customer segment which could have helped to increase and democratize wine consumption among young people.

Moreover, the 15-20 year old bracket build their own personality through rejection, wine being by nature the adult drink and reflects parents' symbols therefore young people tend to turn to other drinks such as beer.

Does the legal drinking age matter? In France, young people are allowed to drink wine as soon as they are 16 (but not to buy) but wine consumption tends to be lower, which therefore leads to the question of the age of drinking. Isn't it too early for them to taste wine as their palate is not mature enough to accept the beverage? In USA, where the legal drinking age is 21, it seems, according to a wine survey (source that even if the millennial generation apparently drinks later than young French people, they tend to prefer wine to beer. In France "This trend is in complete opposition with the United States, where the major group responsible for increasing wine consumption is the Millennials (people who reached adulthood around the year 2000)," said Liz Thatch, professor of management and wine business at Sonoma State University. Americans aged 21 to 29 are the fastest growing segment of the wine market, according to a 2005 study by the Wine Market Council, a trade organization of winemakers, importers, retailers and others» (Wine spectator June 2008). One of the reasons which leads to a higher wine consumption is probably that young people in USA are targeted by wine marketers who use media to spread the information and consider young people as potential customers which is probably not the case in France. Wine is also often seen as an expensive product compare to other drinks such as beer and people don't want to spend too much money when they eat in restaurants or when they are in nightclubs.

However there are some positives signs which lead to a more optimistic vision: according to Simmonet-Toussaint (in Géo confluence) wine image among young people is still vivid and also drives identity to convey. French young adults between 16 and 24 years old still drink around 30 liters of wine per year per capita (while young Americans reach 9 liters). «Despite the downward spiral, there is a bright side. Young French consumers frequently drink wine outside of mealtime, something unheard of 20 years ago» (Macle 2008).

Even if wine consumption is decreasing in France, apparently the bottle of wine still shares a great place with the traditional Sunday lunch and plays a major role in tightening the family unit around the sacrosanct meal

6.2. Hospitality students and wine consumption

Is there a strong correlation between the consumption pattern of young people in France and students learning hospitality?

Most of the students in hotel school enrolling on hospitality programmes are under twenty, an age where wine is not a part of their lifestyle and consequently not the preferred beverage.

It is obviously important to understand their feelings towards wine and especially wine education, students being the principal players in the education process. It is noticeable at the final exams that most of the time students are not able to answer basics questions related to wine knowledge when programmes clearly insist on vineyards, grape varieties, and oenology. That raises some important questions on the complex issue of wine education and on the student's outcome at the end of their studies.

A survey (appendix n°1) was conducted at the Loire Valley Hotel School of Blois (located at the heart of the Loire Valley vineyard) through three different hospitality curricula (Brevet de technicien Supérieur. Baccalauréat Technologique, Baccalauréat Professionnel) in April 2011. 84 students attending at different levels of study were polled. 87% of students were under eighteen.

Most of the students were in unspecified classes (e.g. sommelier course). Therefore it is important to underline that only a part of them were likely to become waiters or Maître d'hôtel and that some of them will probably work as chefs or receptionists at the end of their studies.

The most important issue was to have comprehensive feedback regarding their wine consumption outside school (the wine apprenticeship is mainly linked to the family sphere), their opinion about how wine is taught at school and why is it so difficult to pick up wine knowledge in a country where wine is regarded as an institution.


The first positive aspect of the poll came from the frequency of wine consumption. 70% of students regularly (it would be interesting to have more information regarding the drinking frequency) drink wine out of school and the consumption is mainly done through the family unit, which emphasizes the importance of wine drinking at home in France and probably strengthens the principle of a moderate wine consumption. Parents continue to transmit the wine culture to their children. They are also possibly aware of their children's studies and know that wine education takes place in the program.

Even outside the households, students sometimes share a glass of wine with their friends (even if it casual and if probably the most important beverage drunk is not wine) and therefore pay attention to the quality of beverage they drink and consider wine as a beverage which leads to conviviality and friendliness. When speaking with students, they often think that wine attributes carry better image, values, than others drinks.

Regarding their own interest in wine (without considering their hospitality student status) the majority (60%) consider it as important whilst only 18% are not really interested. As highlighted above not all of them had already made the choice of if they were going to work as a chef or as a waiter. Those results are important as most of the teachers insist on the fact of having wine culture as an essential aspect of the hospitality industry. Moreover most of the great chefs are also good sommeliers and both are tightly linked together.

While speaking about the importance of having good wine knowledge in the field of hospitality, the percentage of students who think that wine knowledge is an essential aspect of their job increases significantly and reaches 86%.

Regarding the wine course programmes it is important to underline the high percentage of students who feel the number of hours devoted to wine education is not enough. That can also be linked to their interest in wine education.

Outcomes to different questions suggested at the end of the survey tend to reinforce the lack of wine education in student's mind. However the most important result is that the sum of

knowledge asked through wine programmes is too high considering the time devoted to wine education. 57% students think that there is too much to learn in a short time. One other important aspect is the lack of practice (wine tasting, visits to vineyards) through the

education process and that the main parts of the courses are theoretical, which doesn't help to pick up all information. One sentence could reflect their feelings towards wine education: not enough practice and too much theory.

One could think that students are not ready to learn about wine when they enter the hospitality school (the majority are about sixteen years old). However most the students polled answered that wine courses should be learned as soon as possible (first year).


It is important that teachers insist, at the beginning of the wine learning process, on wine culture and history and that they differentiate this beverage from other drinks which carry different social meanings. Wine consumption and alcoholism are antinomics and it is necessary to highlight that wine drinking is not a synonym for alcohol abuse and is a culture belonging to numerous countries in the world and also human heritage (

Wine can be intimidating and daunting even for students learning hospitality. The sum of knowledge is sometimes so considerable and theoretical that students often tend to give up when they face wine courses where they are asked to learn wine appellations without being able to put a taste to them. They also tend to have a lack of confidence and are often afraid to make mistakes. The French educational system is mainly a content based learning system (even if things are changing), wine apprenticeship should be done in a more active manner. Wine must be approachable and learned through a different learning process, on a more practical based apprenticeship. According to the region where the school is located (also dependent of the school budget) focus should be on visiting vineyards (at the same time with theoretical courses). Every time students discover a new vineyard, wine tasting samples should be done in order to better assimilate the new information.

Extracurricular activities also help to reinforce the learning process. Partnerships could also be implemented between hospitality schools and winemakers, helping the memory process of the oenology courses.

Obviously that raises crucial questions about the source of funding. A stronger partnership between Public education and stakeholders such as wine growers associations and restaurant owners associations could lower the expensive aspect of wine education. These partnerships already exist and should be only reinforced.

When a teacher's main concern is for students to learn the correct vocabulary before speaking about wine, it often leads to curbing their self-expression. It is therefore important for the students not to be fed with set phrases and a too rigid framework. Teachers should let them express their feelings and own opinions about wine even if they don't at the beginning make correct professional sentences. One of the most interesting aspects of wine assessment is that it mainly relies on each one experience (childhood has a big impact on the memory of smell). Therefore personal experience is clearly important in the wine tasting process and also allows

enjoyment of wine as it refers to past experience and own feelings. Students have to use their critical thinking. Only after few lessons, the teacher should give keys and vocabulary (and wine and food pairing advice) to assess wines and help to put words to their own experience. Educators should only insist on a few terms which will give them enough confidence when they advise customers.

Probably one of the reasons a lot of private wine courses are successful is that students are really actors and not only learners.

During the learning process, comparisons should be made between French wines and foreign wines. Comparisons help to better understand the difference of «terroir» and also avoid misunderstanding. If France produces great wines, some others also have outstanding products. «The French think that they still hold the wine monopoly in terms of great wines and that is an illusion» (Basset, 2011).

7. Importance of continuing education

One can't consider that the student's apprenticeship is finished once they leave their studies. The school's assignment is to give enough skills to the students to be able to integrate the workforce but that does not imply that they have comprehensive wine knowledge. Training is a continuous process which aims to give employees better skills for their job and also participates in their personal development. Wine lists are not static and so waiters have to continually train to meet the customers' needs and restaurants owners' requirements.

According to Gilles Martinet a French restaurateur, professionals have a big responsibility to ensure continuing wine education in restaurants which often leads to good results in term of motivation and helps to gain employees loyalty. Being knowledgeable about wine for the staff gives value when they are in front of the guests.

Wine training can be done through different streams. As soon as a new wine reference is sold, employees should first taste the new wine and should have information (wine and food pairing) on it in order to be coherent in the selling process.

Restaurateurs would argue that is a question of time and they don't have money to spend on continuous training. However in France professional funds such as the FAFIH (acronym for Hospitality Industry Training Fund) offer specific programmes for wine training. If

continuous education is sometimes seen as an expense in the restaurant budget, there is undoubtedly a return on investment as waiters become more confident when selling wine (and that also plays a great role in the customer/waiter relationship). Distributors or winemakers should also take part in the education process. Suppliers are a good source of supplementary wine education.

«Wine can be one of the things that has a significant impact on the restaurateur's bottom line» (GULTEK 2003). That is why wine training must be scheduled as often as possible.


When looking at hospitality curricula in the Public educational system, the wine education framework in France is important compared to other countries and probably partially reflects the French wine market. Even if wine consumption is decreasing the level of wine drunk per capita is one of the highest in the world. The image of wine among young people and moreover hospitality students is still vivid and which they seem to have partially inherited from their parent's wine culture.

A few countries such as USA and England have left wine education to private businesses. In France the Ministry of education offers students high level curricula, which is a great strength compared to other countries. Anyone in France can enrol on these programmes at fee levels which are not expensive.

However the proportion of wine courses devoted to wine education (except for sommelier curricula) are not proportional to the restaurants' wine sales and moreover to the image the French would like to drive around the world. With a closer look at hospitality curricula we can see that there are few wine courses in numerous units; academics and vocational courses. Consequently it is difficult, not to say impossible, for students to fulfil all requirements for the exams and as soon as they enter the workforce they are not confident enough to give basic advice to the customers. In other foreign countries, such as Australia, the syllabus mainly focuses on vocational courses and programmes are much more flexible. Furthermore the wine education process tends to be theoretically rather than being practically orientated. Students are supposed to learn a good part of the French appellation with sometimes only three of four wine tastings during all their studies.

Private wine syllabuses in USA and UK are really successful in their countries and in particular all around the world. Some of them are now internationally recognised and become the rule for someone who wants to undertake an international wine programme. On the contrary, one of the main characteristics of the French wine syllabus is that there is a lack of openness to foreign vineyards. More internationally open sommelier curricula would have a more positive effect, give better credibility and global recognition to the French education framework. Another aspect is that even if French sommeliers are still well represented in internationals sommeliers competitions, there are now numbers of foreign competitors who know very well the French vineyard and who have probably developed better skills in

internationals wines. Consequently that probably leads to more difficulties when French sommeliers compete with foreign wine professionals.

Even if the amount of imported wine in France is still in its infancy, more foreign wines are sold in supermarkets and wine shops than ever before and now even wine newspapers write about foreign producing countries. It would seem normal to focus more on these wines as they also represent a part of customer's wine consumption.

Learning the wine consumption habits of foreigners is also important and selling techniques adapted to these customers should be taught. Chinese people as an example put more emphasis on brand name and less on varietal while New Zealand consumers are aware about variety (Tach, 2008)

In France, except for some private hospitality schools such as «Lenotre», programmes are not internationally orientated and hospitality schools do not offer any programmes for international students. The best way to highlight and promote a wine culture in a producing country is to welcome foreign students (prospective customers) and to provide them with wine courses, at least in the English language. Most hospitality schools in France have premises (sometimes located in the French vineyard) which could easily welcome international students and offer them high level national sommelier programmes dedicated to the French vineyard (and foreign vineyard) and recognised by the sommeliers associations. At the moment, The Macon Davayé School (agricultural school) is the only public school in France which is authorised to prepare an international wine exam (WSET exam, including diploma).


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Appendix N°1



Merci de bien vouloir compléter ce sondage. Totalement anonyme, il a pour objectif de tenter de comprendre le rapport qu'ont les étudiants hôteliers avec le vin et leur sentiment sur le contenu enseigné. Bien évidemment il ne s'agit en aucun cas d'un sondage permettant d'évaluer votre enseignant.


1. Votre âge : O = 20 I=1 > 20

7. Pensez vous que le nombre d'heures allouées aux cours de cru des vins, dégustation (non inclus le service) soient suffisamment importantes ?

O trop important

I=1 suffisamment important I=1 insuffisant

2. avez-vous l'occasion parfois de goûter, consommer des vins en dehors des cours de restaurant

I=1 jamais


I=1 régulièrement

Cette consommation se fait elle plutôt dans le cadre familial (avec vos parents) ?

I=1 oui I=1 non

8. Quelles critiques éventuelles pouvez-vous apporter aux cours de cru des vins, dégustation (plusieurs réponses possibles)

O trop de théorie

I=1 pas assez de théorie

O trop de choses à apprendre en un minimum de temps I=1 pas assez de dégustations

O trop de dégustations

O trop compliqué à apprendre

I=1 pas assez de pratique (service, décantage...)

I=1 les cours ne sont pas suffisamment axés sur la vente (conseil au client)

I=1 pas assez de visites dans les vignobles

I=1 les termes utilisés pour la dégustation sont trop compliqués à comprendre

? le cru des vins devrait être enseigné uniquement en classe de terminale (trop tôt avant)

I=1 le cru des vins devrait être enseigné le plus tôt possible (dès la première année)

I=1 autre ~~~~~~~~~

3. Vous arrive-t-il de consommer du vin en soirée avec des amis (personnes de votre âge et en dehors du cadre familial) ?

I=1 jamais

I=1 de temps en temps I=1 régulièrement

4. Sur une échelle de 1 à 5 (1 peu d'intérêt, 5 beaucoup d'intérêt) comment pourriez-vous qualifier l'intérêt que vous portez au vin. (entourez) ?

1 (peu intérêt) 2 3 4 5 (beaucoup d'intérêt)

Remarques éventuelles :

5. Avez-vous déjà assisté à un salon des vins ? I=1 oui I=1 non

6.. Pensez-vous qu'il soit important dans les métiers de la restauration d'avoir des connaissances dans les domaines du vin ?

I=1 peu important O moyennement important L très important

Merci beaucoup pour votre participation. Monsieur L'HOSTIS