Working in Wine

If you are a MadMen fan, you appreciate those impeccably tailored clothes and creative quips and most likely, your favorite part was cocktail hour, ubiquitous at the office as lunch hour. Ever watch with envy, wondering how you, too, could become the type of professional who worked and whiskeyed and wined all at the same time.

As it turns out, there’s a whole industry dedicated to its production, distribution and perfection, and much of it even involves a taste or two. 

While owning or working on a vineyard provides an obvious entre working in wine, there are many other more accessible paths. Check out these careers that will keep wine on the mind.

Graphic Design

You’ve seen the wine aisle: jam-packed with a million bottles of similar color and shape. Wine sellers rely on unique brand identity to stand out amongst the masses.

It may seem a bit derivative, but label design is a graphic arts specialty. With limited space, graphic designers have the unique challenge of capturing the essence and culture of a specific winemaker in a bold and memorable composition.

If aesthetic endeavors are “your thing,” consider this creative path to working with wine. Check out some truly innovative designs on The Coolist for inspiration!

Sommelier

No need to get wide-eyed. While most notably used as a designation for folks who have mastered wine tasting through formal examination, many upscale fine dining restaurants also have “in-house sommeliers” who need not pass a series of rigorous tests.

Also called “curators,” sommeliers help restaurants select wines that cater to their cuisine and clientele. These are especially coveted and difficult positions to obtain, as the market is scarce and the demands are significant. But a good sommelier can help a restaurant develop an enviable reputation for its quality vino.

Restaurant and culinary experience are good prerequisites, and self-education and certification are ideal training. If you’re about pairing perfection, have a look at Wine Folly’s guide to becoming a sommelier.

Critic

Benjamin Franklin may be in little company when it comes to finding virtue in the critic: “Critics are our friends, they show us our faults.”

Keep that in mind if you think being a wine critic is for you. Wine critics often work for local and regional food, art and entertainment publications, particularly in wine growing regions. Much like the sommelier, having some qualifications in your pocket will earn you credibility and help get your foot in the door. A knack for accurate and accessible description and a unique voice in your writing are musts.

A food and wine critic may find that this role makes as good of a hobby or side job as it does a career. Some even parlay their love of wine reviewing into full-fledged book writing.

No matter what path you take to the vineyard, it’s sure to be a rich and educational experience that will deepen your love of wine.

Artwork header by Lisa Semler

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