Understanding the sommelier effect

Melissa Manske (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Glenn Cordua (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper seeks to explore whether a wine steward can affect wine sales in a restaurant, and to explore a theoretical framework that may eventually lead to more efficient application of wine stewards.


The authors reviewed ten months of wine sales from Houston‐area restaurants during 2004, and found that restaurants with wine stewards tend to outsell restaurants without wine stewards, sometimes by a wide margin.


To provide a further understanding of this effect, the authors reviewed the literature on personal selling and developed a preliminary model of how the wine steward may provide such a profound impact on sales. Our tentative model proposes that wine stewards have both an indirect and direct influence on sales.

Research limitations/implications

The initial research did not study the effect of the wine stewards' level of education and certification in regards to wine sales; nor were the wine education programs in “non‐wine steward restaurants” accounted for. Future research will control for wine steward certification levels and type of training programs at non‐wine‐steward restaurants.


Restaurant owners/managers may want to consider employing a wine steward to strengthen the restaurant's wine program. This study is the first in a series that will attempt to quantify the sommelier effect and to create a taxonomy of wine stewarding with the objective of creating tools that will allow restaurateurs to identify the prudent level of investment in this activity.



Manske, M. and Cordua, G. (2005), "Understanding the sommelier effect", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 17 No. 7, pp. 569-576. https://doi.org/10.1108/09596110510620645

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