Wine consultants use their extensive knowledge of the history and geography of different types of wine to advise people on a variety of wine-related issues from the basic tenets of wine etiquette to the three Ps (price, preference, and pairing) of wine selection. If you possess a love of wine, this is a career you could enjoy.
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1. What Does a Wine Consultant Do?
Their duties include:
- Advising clients on the prices of exotic wines
- Helping restaurants to create wine menus and pair dishes with various wines
- Educating clients about wine etiquette, as well as the origin of various types of wine
- Helping clients select wines for occasions such as birthday parties and wedding anniversaries
- Advising wine importers and retailers on the wines to import or stock
- Publishing wine reviews in wine magazines
- Monitoring trends in the wine market.
2. Work Environment
Although wine consultants usually work from 9am to 5pm, evening and weekend work is quite common, as they can adjust their schedules to meet the specific needs of clients.
When they are not in their offices, they can be found in restaurants training wine servers, or in wineries assessing production processes.
According to Indeed, wine consultants earn an average annual salary of $43,000.
4. Education and Experience
Like most consulting jobs, you need extensive industry knowledge and experience to stand a chance of breaking in. If you have set your sights on becoming a wine consultant, the journey begins in undergraduate school, where you should earn a bachelor’s degree in wine and viticulture or a closely related field. You will learn about grape farming, viticultural practices, sensory evaluation of wine, wine law and compliance, and branded wine marketing, among other topics.
Some of the institutions offering relevant programs include:
- California Polytechnic State University, California
- Oregon State University, Oregon
- University of California, Davis, California
After completing your undergraduate studies, you could enter the wine industry as a winemaker, sommelier, wine taster or even wine server. As your expertise and experience increases, so do your chances of moving into consultancy.
5. Career Development
With substantial industry experience, join the American Wine Society (AWS) to enhance your professional reputation. You will be able to attend national conferences, where you can network with wine importers, producers, and other industry professionals.
AWS also offers a Wine Judge Certification which you can pursue to improve your ability to objectively evaluate wines.
At this point, you can move into self-employment and start a consulting business.
6. Important Qualities
To be an accomplished wine consultant, you need:
- A love of wines
- Extensive knowledge of different wines
- Sensory evaluation (tasting) skills
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Business skills
- Research skills
- Respect for cultural diversity
- An awareness of current wine market trends.
7. Employment Opportunities
Although many wine consultants are self-employed, you can find in-house opportunities in:
- Hotels and resorts
- Established wine consulting firms
- Wine magazine publishing firms
Some experienced wine consultants often pursue graduate degrees in enology or viticulture, and move into academia and become educators.
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Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t compile occupational statistics for wine consultants, you don’t have to get worried. According to the Wine Institute, the US is the world’s largest wine market, meaning there should be enough opportunities for wine specialists.
So, if you have a nose for wine, and you aspire to help people develop a love and appreciation for the drink, then this could be the job for you.