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Wine education in the wine country

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par Gildas L'HOSTIS
Ecole Supérieure de commerce de Dijon - Mastere spécialisé Commerce Internationale vins et spiritueux 2011

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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 €.

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