Sommelier dreams

Are you an oenophile with the itch to make it your job? I asked Jeff Back, a certified sommelier who recently opened Back Wine Bar (25075 Blue Ravine Road in Folsom) about becoming a sommelier:

“Before becoming a sommelier, I had 15 years of mostly fine-dining experience. I fell in love with wine [and] decided to follow my passion by attending the International Sommelier Guild diploma program—one of the only professional bodies that accredits sommeliers with direct instruction. There are three levels of courses that must be taken in succession to become certified, [followed by] tests [that] took two days and were grueling. My second certification was from the Court of Master Sommeliers. They are mainly a testing body in which you pass or you fail.

“Becoming certified by these two bodies took an intensive 18 months of studying and tasting. I used to send my wife out to the wine shops with lists of wine varietals. She would bring them home wrapped tightly in paper bags. I would practice identifying the varietal, region, percent alcohol and producer.”