Wine consultants help people develop an appreciation for wines that suit their needs or tastes. These consultants work for direct sales companies, wine shops and wineries. It's a sales jobs with a lot of flexibility -- you can do it full- or part-time, and you usually get to set your own hours and decide where you'll host presentations.
Getting a Taste of the Business
Wine consultants use tastings as a primary source of generating sales. Tastings are held in homes and offices, and some consultants showcase wines at events such fairs and trade shows. Preparing for these events requires planning and organizational skills, as consultants must find hosts, create guest lists and plan a menu to compliment the wines. When presenting at public events, wine consultants must figure out how to set up within the allotted space and provide food in an attractive and sanitary manner. They must also develop a presentation or outline talking points that will generate sales, such as providing information about how a vineyard's location affects taste and acidity, and why select wines are best paired with certain foods.
Additional Duties and Sources of Revenue
Wine consultants find various ways to diversify their careers and earn extra money. Some work with restaurant owners, helping them select wines that compliment the menu, and train restaurant staff about regional differences and making wine suggestions that compliment customers' orders. Wine shops bring in consultants to interact with customers, helping them choose wines that suit their needs and encouraging them to try new varieties.
Some wine consultants host public seminars and classes, educating people on topics such as wine etiquette or learning the difference between sparkling wine and champagne. Many consultants also write articles and press releases for various publications, and maintain blogs or websites to generate interest in the products they sell and companies they work with.
Wine consultants should be enthusiastic and passionate about wine. Their income is based on how hard they work, so they need to be motivated to book tastings and come up with a strategy to determine which events are likely to be lucrative.
Good interpersonal skills are essential to make people feel relaxed and comfortable; consultants should avoid intimidating potential clients or bombarding them with a hard sales pitch. Customer service skills are also important for tracking sales, deliveries and requests from individuals interested in hosting tastings, and for maintaining relationships with regular clients.
Aspiring wine consultants can pursue a degree in a wine-related field, such as viticulture, but a degree usually isn't necessary. Basic training and certification can help newcomers get a foot in the door, notes wine educator and consultant Mary Cressler on the Job Shadow website, though she adds that knowledge gained on the job is best. Some companies hire entry-level wine consultants and provide training.
Wine consultant Betty Kaufman recommends ongoing education, telling The Huffington Post that she and other professionals achieve this by attending wine conventions and seminars, and pursuing any educational resources distributed by winemakers.