THOUGHT PIECE the carling team
Wine Buyer Job Description
A wine buyer helps clients find and purchase high-quality wines that match their specific requirements. Wine buyers typically work for wine wholesalers, private collectors, restaurants, and shops.
To become a wine buyer, you must have a vast knowledge of wine and understand current wine industry trends. Wine buyers must have excellent communication skills, strong sales experience and be able to negotiate with wine suppliers from different parts of the world.
Wine buyers will manage the portfolio of wines that their clients hold, ensuring that each client has the ideal collection of wines for their restaurant, shop or private collection. It is an exciting role that involves working closely with clients and searching for the best wines available.
Wine Buyer Responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of a wine buyer include:
- Selecting wines for a client’s cellar
The wine buyer must identify the client’s unique requirements and create a plan for purchasing wines to meet those requirements. They must consider the client’s usage of wine, consumer preferences (if a restaurant or shop) or personal preferences (for private collectors). They will develop a plan that includes goals for purchasing wines of different varieties and vintages from various regions.
- Run wine tastings for clients
After assessing a client’s requirements, wine buyers will run tasting sessions to show the client the kinds of wines that are available. These sessions will aim to educate the client and determine which vintages they prefer.
- Sourcing wine from suppliers
A wine buyer will contact suppliers who have the wines they require. Wines may be bought in casks or as finished bottled wine, depending upon the requirements of the client. The wine buyer must negotiate with suppliers to obtain the best possible value for clients.
- Developing successful wines
Wine buyers must identify wines that will be a commercial success for clients. For restaurants, that means wines that patrons will enjoy and are willing to pay a high price for. For private collectors, that means wines which they will appreciate in value.
- Stay up to date with wine industry news
A wine buyer must know which new wines are being released, which new wineries are opening, and which wineries are currently producing the best vintages. They will research new wines and wineries to establish which ones are worth further investigation.
- Maintaining a database of high-quality wines for each client
It is important that each client has a database of the wines they have in inventory and the wines they are interested in purchasing. The wine buyer will help the client manage this database.
- Presenting new wines to clients
If the wine buyer is working for a shop or restaurant, they will often have to present new wines to the client and help them understand the true value of each wine.
- Keep customers informed of the wines being added to the cellar
A wine buyer will help the client keep their customers informed about the new wines being added to the cellar. The wine buyer may be asked to write articles, newsletters or blog posts describing the reasons for buying a new wine. They may even be asked to promote wines via social media or online videos.
- Develop relationships with suppliers
The wine buyer should develop strong relationships with wine suppliers and wineries around the world.
- Manage wine stock levels
The wine buyer must ensure the client has adequate levels of each wine in their cellar. They must look at upcoming events and customer trends to predict how much additional wine is required throughout the year.
At a minimum, a wine buyer should have qualification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Ideally, they will also have a degree in marketing, communications, or business.
Ideally, a wine buyer should have experience working in a junior buying role within the wine industry. They should also have experience working in sales or marketing roles as a store supervisor, sales executive or wine ambassador.
Wine Buyer — Key Skills
The key skills that a wine buyer should possess include:
- A vast knowledge of wine varieties and brands
- A great palate and ability to match wine with foods
- Strong understanding of the wine industry including current trends
- Strong negotiation skills
- Excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills
- Strong organisational skills and attention to detail
- IT knowledge
- Physically fit and capable of lifting boxes of wine
- Sales and promotional skills
- Able to share their extensive knowledge with clients and customers
The view our latest wine industry roles, visit our wine jobs page.
What is the role of a wine buyer?
A wine buyer is instrumental in aiding clients to curate a selection of wines that align with their specific needs, whether that be for a wine wholesaler, a private collection, a restaurant, or a shop. They are responsible for discerning the client’s requirements, sourcing wines, conducting tastings, and managing wine portfolios to ensure a fitting assortment of wines for their clients.
What skills and knowledge are required to become a wine buyer?
A proficient wine buyer needs an expansive knowledge of wine types, brands, and a strong understanding of the wine industry’s current movements. Additionally, they must possess a discerning palate, excellent negotiation and communication abilities, organisational skills, IT proficiency, and be physically able to manage wine stock, including lifting boxes of wine. Sales and promotional skills are also crucial for this role.
How does a wine buyer contribute to a client’s wine collection?
A wine buyer carefully selects wines that meet a client’s unique usage and preferences, often crafting a strategic purchasing plan. They provide wine tastings to clients, source wines from various suppliers, aim to find commercially successful wines, and maintain a detailed database of the client’s inventory and potential acquisitions.
What are the educational requirements for a wine buyer?
Wine buyers should ideally possess qualifications from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and may benefit from a degree in marketing, communications, or business to enhance their ability to market and manage wine selections effectively.
What kind of work experience is beneficial for a wine buyer?
Beneficial work experience for a wine buyer includes roles in junior buying within the wine industry, as well as positions in sales or marketing such as store supervisor, sales executive, or wine ambassador. This experience should contribute to their understanding of the wine market, consumer trends, and the promotion of wine products.