The enjoyment of wine has been a cherished part of civil society since ancient times. Wine consultants help to keep this tradition going by advising wine consumers and merchants on a range of issues, from wine etiquette to wine prices. Aspiring consultants should have a love of wine, a degree in wine and viticulture, and superior sensory evaluation skills.
Relevant Education and Experience
Although there are no set educational requirements for becoming a wine consultant, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in wine and viticulture will give you the best preparation. The program provides training in areas such as grape farming, wine tasting, wine law and compliance, issues and trends in the wine industry and wine marketing. As part of the program requirements, you will also complete a wine and viticulture internship, which will help you gain some hands-on experience in the wine industry.
After graduating, focus on enhancing your experience with wines by finding an entry-level job in the wine industry. You could start out as a wine salesperson in retail stores, wine steward in a restaurant or even a viticulturist in a vineyard or winery.
Essential Skills and Attributes
You need strong sensory evaluation skills to taste and measure the quality of wine at various production stages and make food and wine pairings that are based on sensory qualities. Research skills are important as well because the job may involve researching and analyzing the wine preferences of various consumer groups for distributors or retailers. Along with a love and appreciation of wine, a respect for cultural diversity is a must-have, as you should not impose your wine tastes on clients. You also need verbal communication skills to explain complex or foreign wine information in an easy to understand manner.
Professionalism and Certification
Joining a professional association enables you to build your professional reputation. The American Wine Society or AWS, for instance, offers individual membership opportunities that you should seize to secure invites to wine events, where you can network with wine tasters, retailers, distributors, importers and producers. Some of the contacts in your professional network could turn out to be you future clients or employers.
AWS also offers a wine judge certification program. Complete this to demonstrate your ability to make educated and objective opinions about wines.
Employment Opportunities and Salary
Armed with your degree, professional certification and wine industry experience, search for in-house consulting jobs in wineries, fine dining restaurants, cruise ships, resorts or large wine retail stores. Alternatively, you could venture into self-employment and establish a wine consulting business. Apart from offering consultancy services, you could secure writing gigs with wine magazines.
According to the job site Indeed, wine consultants earned an average annual salary of $43,000, as of May 2015.
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