The North American Sommelier Association is a partner organization of the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS). Both are under the umbrella of the WSA (Worldwide Sommelier Association). This allows NASA to access & utilize the historically world renowned methodologies and curriculums of the AIS and to issue WSA certifications throughout the territory of North America, acting as the WSA’s representative in this continent.
The AIS - Associazione Italiana Sommeliers (Italian Sommeliers Association), was founded on July 7th 1965 by Jean Valenti, sommelier of French origin called in Italy by Angelo Pozzi for his famous Milan restaurant. It is the foremost authority in wine education and Sommelier services in Italy and throughout the world, from Japan to the Caribbean, all over Europe and now in North America through NASA.
In 1973, with Italian Presidential decree, the Association obtained the official legal acknowledgment of the Italian government.
Globally, it is part of the WSA ‘World Sommelier Association’, recognized officially worldwide. It is the largest Sommelier Association in the world, with extremely high curriculum and quality service standards as well as political weight, opportunities and global recognition.
Recently opened in the United States through the branches of California, New York and Washington DC between 2005 and 2008, the WSA is the utmost educational and consulting authority on Italian wines but is absolutely not limited to Italy. Famous around the globe for its technical tasting methodology, patented food & wine pairing technique, publications, service standards & course structure.
Working in close cooperation with international airlines, international hotel chains, significant wine glass producers, restaurants, wineries, chambers of commerce and a vast array of clients, the WSA’s mindset is generally broader than most associations. Our mission is to train, educate and prepare professional “wine experts” as a whole, not limited to the restaurant. We believe the wine & spirits industry is changing and a wider view, preparation and competence of the beverage & hospitality industry is essential.
WSA/AIS Sommeliers include journalists, TV personalities, wholesalers, winemakers, retailers, viticulturists, university teachers and naturally…restaurant professionals.
The association carries 2 uniforms, one for representation and one for service, in order to properly differentiate the tasks of our qualified global “wine experts”.
Through its partner publishing co. Bibenda, the WSA/AIS publishes numerous course books, a monthly magazine and a yearly wine guide “Duemilavini” which has become, in Italy, the most distinctive wine guide for Italian wines.
The aim of the association, as recited in the first article of the charter is:
“…to qualify the character and the profession of the Sommelier and to add value to the culture of the wine within the world of food&beverage as a whole, not limited to restaurants and hotels only. It therefore will carry out every activity from communication activities to the organization of events, training of personnel and consulting. The Association is of cultural, didactic, and editorial character, for promoting the knowledge and consumption of wine and all alcoholic beverages, with a strong emphasis on food pairing based on proper chemical and stylistic matching, in order to heighten the quality of gastronomic appreciation across the globe, taking direct care of the professional preparation of sommeliers and staff”.
SOME FACTS & FIGURES…
Currently, the WSA/AIS counts over 33.000 thousand members (not all certified Sommeliers) only in Italy, the biggest in the world, with continuous increase and opening of various branches abroad: Tokyo, Santo Domingo, London, Bruxelles, Munich & Los Angeles.
To be part of the WSA or any of its local representative organizations (NASA for North America) means to participate to the many food & beverage activities that are organized from the Associates: guided wine tastings, seminars, dinners, visits to vineyards and wineries as well as the chance to actively take part in official professional wine evaluations, services and consulting…once the necessary qualifications are obtained.
The diplomas & certificates issued by any WSA representative association are oficially recognized across the world, wherever the WSA is present with an affiliate. Moreover, it means to be able to participate to conferences and national + international symposia, in order to improve one’s own acquaintances, as a professional or simple amateur, in the world of wine and the food & beverage market.
NASA & AIS also have their own line of prestigious uniforms, tools and apparel for Sommeliers belonging to the association, with a selection of items available to the public.
The WSA & NASA publish various books and periodicals such as:
• Monthly magazine “De Vinis”
• “Duemilavini” complete guide to Italian wines and restaurants, issued every year
• Each region has its own specific monthly magazine
• Course books & course materials (a complete series of 67 high quality books for the three phase Certified Sommelier course, Master Classes & Specialist Classes)