Bread Sommeliers Are Apparently A Thing, And We're In Love

Everyone has heard of sommeliers, the professional wine tasters whose job it is to know everything there is to know about wine and wine pairings. Sommeliers' expertise extends in all sorts of directions, from which wine to pair with cured meats to the spice that's apparently nearly impossible to pair with wine. But you might've wondered why there aren't sommeliers for other kinds of food with varied types as well. Why isn't there a sommelier for something like bread?

As it turns out, there actually is. Though the trend is recent, in 2015, the German Baking Academy (Akademie Deutches Bäckerhandwerk, and try saying that three times fast) created a bread sommelier program. The results were beyond their wildest expectations, and today, there are dozens of graduates from Germany, Austria, and Italy who have become certified "brotsommeliers," including relatively well-known ones like Axel Schmitt, nicknamed the "Wacken Baker," and Michael Kress. The trend isn't slowing down, and, in 2023, the German Baking Academy began offering courses in English for the first time.

Bread sommeliers study bread on its own and with other food

But what does a bread sommelier actually do? Pretty much the exact same stuff a sommelier does for wine, except for delicious loaves. Bread sommeliers taste bread, closely and deeply smell bread (which, honestly, big same), test loaves and crusts for texture — all the stuff that's equivalent to what you'd expect a wine sommelier to do with a glass and a bottle. Like wine sommeliers, they also put significant amounts of study into understanding the history, cultural reach, and mechanical process that goes into their chosen area of expertise.

Also like a wine sommelier, the most important part of a bread sommelier's job may be mastering pairings. Bread pairings being crucial should be unsurprising to anyone who's ever eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rye out of desperation and realized their mistake too late. Bread sommeliers don't simply work to understand the classic pairings between bread and other foods (and drinks), but to discover new ones by pushing the boundaries of bread science and trying innovative combinations.

Bread sommeliers kind of make perfect sense

If the notion of a bread sommelier seems strange to you, consider that bread is one of the most universal and varied foodstuffs on the face of the planet, with 3,200 registered different types of bread just in Germany alone. The flavor of bread can vary significantly; it can't really be argued that wheat bread and bagels and naan and lavash bread don't feel and taste wildly divergent. The primary difference between a bread sommelier and a wine sommelier is that pretty much everyone who doesn't have a gluten intolerance or allergy eats bread, while wine is a bit more specialized (and only available to adults in many countries), so a bread sommelier's work could rightly be considered more universal.

Of course, wine and bread sommeliers aren't the only kinds: there are also sommeliers for cheese, coffee, beer, meats, rice, and pretty much any other widespread food you can think of. Now just wait until water sommeliers become the next big thing.