Among all the questions I am asked at tastings this one pops up again and again:
‘How do I get ‘into’ the Wine Trade’?
Answer: Get a Job: Import Wine: Sell Something.
The Wine trade is no different to any other profession. It’s cut throat and viscous and often controlled by business heads who have no interest in wine at all. So, can you sweep the floor? Work in a wine shop at the weekends – for fun!
Get a reference and voila you are now ‘experienced’ and can apply for a sales assistant job.
But no one wants to do that any longer. They want to be the store manager right from the get go. Well, maybe retailing isn’t for you after all.
No problemo. Ireland is a small place and even if ALL of our importers quadrupled their listings there would still be a world of wine out there looking for someone take their wine on. Get an import licence.
Buy some wine. Bring it in. Sell it on. Make a profit and buy some more.
Well, maybe not. You have to finance this and at over €130 excise per case of twelve bottles (plus Vat!) you might begin to think that sweeping floors is a better option. Then there’s the little problem of ‘making a profit’. Even if you buy a bottle overseas at less than €3.00 you will have to sell it here between €13 and €15 bottle. It all mounts up …… shipping, warehousing, delivery, insurance……Excise…. VAT….. Remember, someone has to buy it from you. You have to sell it to someone. How many friends do you have? How many of these might prefer to spend less than a tenner down at the local offie? You might have to give samples out just to keep your friends onside …. and you’ll have to finance the samples …..
No problems. The wine trade is a forgiving place. There’s loads of room for accountants, marketing graduates, warehouse managers and the like. You don’t like that? OK. You want to be, ‘In The Wine Trade Proper’. I’ve never really understood this one! I take it to loosely mean ‘having a great time working with wine and getting paid at the same time’. Are these the ‘experts’ who bore the pants off people with age old stories or those who write wine columns without ever seeming to attend tastings at all? Maybe, but don’t fool yourself. They are seldom paid and if they are it is small pittance. The best of these have actually worked for a long time in the trade and do know what’s what. The others are soon exposed!
Nope, what’s left is to supply the existing trade with Stuff, Gadgets and Gizmos. This is a cheaper option and, perhaps surprisingly, will get you into tastings and places of interest. ‘Stuff’ I define as day to day useful things such as straw for displays or even displays themselves. ‘Gadgets’ are useful items that sell every now and then – corkscrews, greeting cards, aerators, glassware, wine savers (even the fabulous and best Gadget of all time – the Corovin!) ‘Gizmos’ are ephemeral items that arrive with great fanfare and are forgotten about before sunset – ‘Magnets to Instantly Age Wine’ and ‘Scratch and Sniff Wine Tasting Cards’ come to mind!!
VacuVin aerator/pourer – a Useful Gadget
So, grab some Stuff, Gadgets or Gizmos and sell them in.
Of course if you have stacks of cash in the first instance – You’re Definitely In!