What Does a Wine Specialist Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A wine specialist works in sales and marketing to connect customers with wines that will suit their needs. Some work with wineries and distributors to contact wholesale and retail clients, while others may be employed by stores or restaurants to manage their wine collections. Certifications are available for people who want to work as wine specialists, although they may not be required. Applicants for such positions typically need some experience in the industry and a demonstrated interest in wines and viticulture, the cultivation and management of grapes for wine production.

Bartender serving a glass of wine.
Bartender serving a glass of wine.

Specialists who work for distributors and wineries need to know the catalog thoroughly, and feel comfortable talking about the available wines and their production processes. They make sales visits to clients like stores, restaurants, and bars to meet with the staff there and sell products appropriate to the venue. A wine specialist also makes sales calls and handles orders from the office. Part of the job can involve maintaining good relationships with clients through social networking like attending events and offering small gifts during the holidays.

Glasses of white wine.
Glasses of white wine.

As distributors consider taking on new sources, a wine specialist may be involved in the process of reviewing current products and determining if they fit with the distributor's overall range. Specialists consider prospective clients, the existing lineup, and other factors when they decide whether to recommend new wine purchases. They may work on the development of product notes and marketing materials for their employers.

Wine fermenting in a vat.
Wine fermenting in a vat.

At stores and restaurants, the wine specialist curates a collection. This can include meeting with multiple wineries and distributors to explore possible sources, taste wines, and determine which mesh with the existing product family. Wine specialists also write up notes and information on the products and train the sales staff so they can provide accurate information to customers. The job may involve some travel to visit facilities and attend trade shows to keep up with the industry.

Certifications for wine specialists typically involve examinations to demonstrate a knowledge of wines and viticulture. Organizations like the Society of Wine Educators in the United States design and administer these tests. People with these qualifications may advertise them and use the accompanying logos on their business cards and other materials. A wine specialist with certifications may find more job opportunities available in some markets, depending on the nature of those certifications. Continuing education is also available through such organizations to allow specialists to monitor developments in the field.

A glass of red wine.
A glass of red wine.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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