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How to Be a Wine Sales Rep: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

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Three Parts:

It should go without saying that in order to be a successful wine sales representative, you should love discussing, handling, learning about, and drinking wine. Almost as obvious is the fact that you should have good sales skills, as well. Wine sales reps sometimes must work very hard to succeed, and they often have numerous duties they must perform as part of the job. But for those with a passion for wine, getting paid to be immersed in wine culture makes the hard work worth it.


Part 1

Doing Your Homework

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Read about wine. In order to be a successful wine sales rep, you need to learn all you can about wine. Read up on the different sources and fermentation processes associated with various types of wine, and learn about the vintages and pairings that people tend to prefer. Pay special attention to local wines, if this exists in your area.

Subscribe to periodicals like “Wine Spectator” and “Decanter” to keep up with current trends in wine. Wine magazines such as these feature reviews from established critics, interviews with wine makers and restaurateurs, trends in wine making, and “best of” lists that highlight popular vintages to look for.

Books that survey the wine world can also be great sources of information. For instance, “The Oxford Companion to Wine” is a respected authority on just about everything related to wines, wine making, regional variants, grape varieties, and more.

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Join a tasting group. By joining a tasting group, you will have the opportunity to expose yourself to wines from different regions on a regular basis and find out how they are made. Tastings can also be a good place to learn about which wines pair well with which foods. You can find a tasting group near you by searching online

Take advantage of your tasting meetings by asking as many questions as possible of the hosts. This is a great way to learn some insider facts about the wines and wineries you come into contact with. Distribute business cards to winery managers or hosts; these individuals could become professional contacts later on.

Take a notebook with you on tasting tours so you can record your impressions and things you learn throughout the experience. Do not do this if your tasting guide states that it is not allowed.

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Visit local wine stores and restaurants. On your store visits, take the time to find out what they stock. In restaurants, examine their wine lists and ask your server for details about those you are unfamiliar with. You can learn a lot by understanding what is on a wine list and why.

Purchase a range of wine varieties at a range of price points. As a wine sales rep, you will be selling wines of every caliber and should become knowledgeable on cheap wines, as well as the rare and expensive ones.

Take note of which types of wines are commonly found with specific restaurant themes. You might even want to create a spreadsheet so you can easily cross-reference wine types and see what food styles they tend to go with.

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Take classes. Unless you already have a degree in viniculture or a related subject, enroll in classes at your local community college on subjects relevant to wine and winemaking. While not all colleges offer classes on these topics, many do. These classes tend to be popular with adult hobbyists, so they are often offered at night and on the weekends. Check with your local college for options.

These classes can provide you with fundamental knowledge about winemaking culture and the processes behind growing grapes and producing wine. Even if you know a great deal already about wine flavors and vintages, you will benefit as a wine sales rep by understanding the work that goes into producing the wines you sell.

If you do not live near a college offering viniculture classes or can't fit them into your schedule, look into online course options. Many of these are available through colleges and universities, but can also be found on the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) website.

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