The vague job title of “consultant” often begs the question: What does this person actually do? As in other industries, wine consultants can work in a vast array of different capacities, from production to service or retail. Regardless of their personal niche, they generally provide professional advice or service to various players in the wine industry.
If your vision of a wine consultant is someone who sits around and sips wine all day, you may be partially correct. But it’s not all glamor and takes much more skill and experience than just an appreciation for good Pinot. Here’s what to know if you’re thinking of becoming one.
What Is a Wine Consultant?
While the role of a wine consultant is largely shaped by the individual and may include different areas of specialization, most tend to fall into one (or more) of four categories within the industry: restaurants, private collectors, vineyards and wineries.
Restaurant Wine Consultants
Wine consultants in this space advise bars and restaurants on everything from designing and diversifying wine programs to hiring sommeliers and wine directors. They may also help with operations and creating sales programs for restaurant and hotel clients.
After he worked as a sommelier in restaurants for years, New York-based Jeff Porter left his role in 2019 to pursue a career as an independent consultant.
“[Creating] the wine list is the sexy part—the human parts are always the hardest,” says Porter. Some weeks, he’s dressed to the nines helping set up a wine program at a luxury hotel in Piedmont, Italy, while others he’s sweating through a T-shirt unpacking 150 cases of wine at Barclays Center, a sport and entertainment complex in Brooklyn, New York.