So You Want To Be a Wine Consultant…

(The team at My Wine Canada are very excited to welcome Michelle Bouffard, a well-respected Canadian wine consultant, educator and writer, as a regular contributor to our Wine Blog.)

The recent holidays reminded me how much importance people give to what you do for a living. It can either wrap up a conversation really quickly or in my case, steal the show. “You get to drink wine and travel the world? I want your job! I get this comment all of the time. Just like it’s easy to paint a beautiful life on social media by showing the happy moments, people hang on to the glamorous part of the job. Yes, my work involves judging at wine competitions locally and abroad, tasting and reviewing wines for magazines, radio and television, speaking at conferences and visiting wine regions. Oh, and did I mention that I also get paid to teach and share my passion with consumers and the trade? Sounds good so far. And it is. BUT, this is the bright side that I share with you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

So you really want my job? There are a few key points you should consider before applying for it. First, you will need to dedicate years (and dollars) to studying the world of wine. Multiple courses exist and with the increasing competition, the more education you have the better. The courses are rigorous and the exams challenging. Because there is only so much you can learn from books, experience in the field is key. Bussing tables and serving in restaurants, working at wine stores and/or for an importer will be helpful to launch your freelance career. Once you are ready to fly solo, you’ll need to diversify your work to make ends meet. Beware; the salary is not nearly as appealing as a lawyer or an accountant and the symptoms associated with the uncertainty of getting contracts might be anxiety and lack of sleep. Luckily, you always have wine samples around to calm you down. Long days in cold cellars doing inventory and dusting bottles, hours spent on crafty proposals that might never come to fruition also comes with this ‘very’ glamorous job. Although not pleasant, the heavy lifting of wine boxes keeps you in great shape and saves a few dollars at the gym.

Still considering? I highly recommend it. The hard work pays off and the rewards are high. It’s energizing to see the ongoing dynamism dedicated to wine in Canada. Not just from within the trade and with consumers but amongst wine producers. I am thrilled to join My Wine Canada as a regular contributor. I am looking forward to sharing my passion through further thoughts and having a few virtual wine glasses with you. Santé!


Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She co-owns the Vancouver-based company ‘house wine’ and is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.

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