By: Nicole Capo
Many may think of the kitchen as a traditionally female-oriented place, but that sentiment does not hold true in the world of professional cooking. And there’s one place in the food industry where that absence has been particularly striking: Professional wine service. But fret not, ladies who love wine! Female sommeliers — the official name for expertly trained wine professionals — are on the rise, and beginning to make a name for themselves in a world largely dominated by men.
The news comes via the International Culinary Center, which has branches in New York and California. According to their numbers, for the 2012 and 2013 school years, 60% of the 251 graduates in the system’s sommelier program were women. The Culinary Institute of America’s California branch has also enrolled more women than men in the four years of its Accelerated Wine & Beverage Program’s existence. All of which is incredibly surprising news for the industry that’s traditionally attracted and groomed males. Of the Master Sommeliers — the top distinction among sommeliers, which requires years of in-depth training and only accounts for 214 professionals worldwide — only 19 certified masters in the Americas are women.
It's kind of ironic since science dictates that women are actually better suited to serve such a temperamental, nuanced delicacy. Why? Because their noses and taste buds are better tuned to the subtleties. Multiple studies show that women are better at detecting odors that men can, and are able to name smells more precisely as well. One article from The Gainesville Sun even found that women sommeliers are perceived to be “more personable, approachable, and less snobby than their male counterparts.”
It’s not just the face of the wine presenters that’s changing, but also the face of the consumers as well. Millennials are fast becoming one of the larger wine-drinking demographics, to the point where marketers all over are working on new ways to approach the younger drinkers who eschew the pretentions that previous generations associated with the libation. And those who have truly studied Generation “wYne” know that the trendsetters among them are the women, as females 18-24 are actually more likely to fall under the category of “Creators,” or those who are creating new content on the web (and therefore finding out and spreading new information about products and trends).
Yes, it was a man’s world once, but we wouldn’t count on you holding the reins for too long there, guys.
[Pic via Flickr - Jim Fischer]