A day in the life…
Author: Katie Rolph
How did you get into wine?
Like many students, I developed a healthy interest in wine (and gin….and vodka…!) at university and after graduating with a degree in English and Latin Literature, decided to pursue a vinous path, rather than the more obvious routes of publishing or teaching. I joined the graduate scheme at Majestic Wine and learnt a huge amount about both wine and management, passing the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits whilst working my way up to Senior Manager.
What brought you to the role of Berrys’ Wine Club Manager?
After five years, I was ready for a new challenge and a move away from the shop floor. After a brief stint as a Wine Advisor in Berrys’ Sales and Service department, I got the job as Wine Club manager. I love speaking to customers and I love all the behind-the-scenes work that running the Wine Club involves, so it’s a perfect combination for me and felt like a natural progression from what I’d done before.
What is a typical week like for you?
With a new selection of cases every other month, my working week runs very much to a revolving schedule. If a delivery is imminent, I will be setting up orders and ensuring everything runs smoothly with our despatch team. At other times, I can be found tasting wines and writing my part of the detailed tasting notes that accompany each and every wine we send out in the Club. I also write a monthly newsletter for members and work on organising Wine Club events, such as the Walkaround tasting we hold each spring and the ever-popular formal dinner in the summer. A big part of each day is spent speaking to and responding to members’ queries and questions. I love how my job is an ever rotating series of mini projects; this makes it varied and always interesting!
What do you like most about your job?
I think Wine Clubbers are some of the nicest customers I’ve ever dealt with. It gives me enormous pleasure to help people, in some small way, to discover their likes and dislikes in the world of wine. When members tell me their Wine Club membership has helped them become more confident in selecting wine, I feel as if we’ve achieved our goal of discovery and education.
My job also gives me the opportunity to work with some incredibly knowledgeable people throughout the business. The Wine Club buying team includes Masters of Wine and experts in their field of expertise. Tasting and discussing Club wines with them is always interesting and although it might seem intimidating at face value, they are all broad minded and passionate about wine, and as interested in my opinions as they are in each other’s – it’s a pleasure to be able to tap into their vast knowledge.
I also meet regularly with Berrys’ Head Chef, Stewart Turner, to discuss the recipes for the Dinner Party Case. The buying team and I select the wines and then Stewart and I taste them together and decide on delicious recipes that will complement the wines. It’s a great way to approach food and wine matching and often gives me inspiration for my own dinner parties. Stewart is very passionate about food and always has an eye on what is seasonal and interesting as well as being aware that not all of us (myself included!) have chef skills or his knowledge of ingredients. We work hard at making the recipes accessible but a bit different from something you could find in a cook book.
What are the most difficult or challenging aspects of your job?
Although the buyers select the wines for the Club cases, part of my job is to check we don’t repeat wines in the same case and that each case represents a good mix of styles and price points, so there is something for every occasion in there. With a delivery every other month and nine cases to choose from, this can be quite a task! Keeping up with new wines and the latest up-and-coming areas is also a challenge, but the wine trade is very dynamic so this is part of any job in the industry.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in wine?
Wine is a truly fascinating product to work with, always evolving (literally, in the bottle and figuratively, in terms of new trends) and it’s increasingly diverse. I’ve met countless people who have come to the wine trade later in life, on realising their previous career wasn’t as fulfilling as they thought it would be and relished the idea of working with something that had become a hobby. It’s also a small enough industry to feel very personal. If you’re thinking about it, consider taking a course with Berrys or the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) to find out if it’s for you.
What’s coming up for Wine Club in 2012?
I’m looking forward to meeting some new customers and re-acquainting myself with others at the Walkaround tasting in a few weeks’ time and also at the Wine Club Dinner in July. Plus we’re planning some great wines over the next few months for the Club cases and will be introducing more one off guest cases to give members even more choice and flexibility. Finally we’ve recently introduced a 10% discount for members that hopefully will continue to help participants get value from all their wine purchases.
If you’d like to learn more about Wine Club, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0800 280 2440.