The Life of a Wine Retailer

Where do I begin?  It’s been a long time since I’ve been here…please forgive me…

Do I have an excuse?  Maybe…

I’m studying for my diploma, so when I’m not at “the office” I’m at home with my nose in a book, or my nose in a glass…however you want to view it, I have my nose in something.  In my vehicle to and from work, I’m listening to audio books that have everything to do with food and wine (and/or spirits).  It’s kind of all-consuming.  My social life exists, but only in fits and starts. I don’t get out much, and when I do, it is wine related.  On the bright side, I’ve enjoyed some fantastic meals in the company of amazing people, tasting stellar, top-notch wines.  How lucky am I?


Some of the fantastic Italian wines on the shelves


Bordeaux alcove and feature pink, along with “staff picks”

But in the meantime, when I’m not studying, I AM working!  What does the life of a wine retailer entail?  Mondays are order days…I walk around the store and see what needs to be ordered.  What did we sell out of? Or, what did I taste during the week that I’m just dying to bring in? Or what’s been sitting in allocation, like, forever that I’ve either forgotten about, or I just can’t pull that week because the budget has been exceeded!  Do the restaurants we cater to need any product?  Oh, and what about the in-store tastings and formal tastings coming up…what are we pouring and what do we need to bring in for that?

Tuesdays are “clean-up” days.  Dusting, mopping, sweeping, and today, a copious amount of tasting.  31 wines to be exact (I’m a professional spitter), plus 2 martinis at lunch (tasted and enjoyed, not spit out!) This doesn’t necessarily happen every Tuesday, but today it did! Spring in Edmonton is when most of the producers come out to show off their product (do you blame them in our weather?  I wouldn’t come out here until Spring either!) As a result, I have several appointments on the calendar in the coming weeks where I might get to that “31 a day ” wine total.  Oh yes…and did I tell you I’m keeping track?  At the end of the year, I’m going to have a grand total of wines I’ve tasted for 2015. I expect it to be a staggering number.  Not as many as some, but much more than many!  That’s the life of a get to taste, and taste lots!

Wednesdays…well, those are my “schlepping” days.  Last week, I unloaded 2 pallets entirely by myself.  I rolled up my sleeves, put on my gloves and worked up a sweat.  And it was awesome!  I’m not too big of a person to do a little dirty work…to get in there and lift a few heavy boxes.  That was my workout for the day, and I took it all in! When the order comes in, it’s received, taken to its proper place on the shelf, unloaded and stickered with any remaining wine being put in the back. Special orders need to be accounted for, and anything new needs a shelf tag, a bar code and a place on the shelf.  After five months, it’s becoming routine.  Before the order even comes in, there is a place for it amongst its peers, it has a shelf label and it’s priced.  Neat, tidy, done.  The fun comes at the end of the day when my staff, the owner, and I taste something new that has come into the store.  This is not only fun, it’s important for my staff to try new things.  How can they sell something if they haven’t tried it?  It’s simple really.  If they are here and there is a rep sampling, they taste.  What I taste, they taste.  You taste, you sell, you buy.  It’s not rocket science…

Thursdays are inventory days.  I have a rotation of countries, spirits and beers, print off the sheets and my staff gets to work counting.  Tedious?  Yes.  Some days it can be, but if anything, I will ALWAYS have a handle on what is in the store and what is missing.  It’s very important, and as much as my boss grumbles, I think he agrees with me. Really, it’s a no brainer.  Count it, and keep track of it!  On Thursdays, the store starts getting a little busier too.  Folks are starting to prepare for the weekend and with the weather warming, they’re getting their barbeques all revved up and serving up some grilled meats!  With that, comes some fabulous wines.  Now is the time to pick up that wine…don’t wait.

Fridays.  Well, what more can I say?  Friday is the last day of the work week for many, and at the store, it’s “PK” night.  There’s a bit of a cult following for PK around here…What is PK you ask?  “Product Knowledge” sounds much better than Happy Hour doesn’t it?  Just a whole lot of camaraderie. Folks buying a bottle to share, so everyone around the bar can have a taste.  Not to mention (one of my many awesome) wine reps that are here on Friday afternoons to pour their product for peeps to sample!  Shall I say it again?  You taste…you buy.  It’s really a very simple formula.  Truly, I love Fridays.  It’s a fun day to be alive and a fun day to be at work.

Saturday, I’m here a couple of times a month.  But I have awesome staff that cover weekends too.  I’m very lucky that way. Again, we hope to see more traffic for the weekend and one more time, we have some wines poured later on in the day for our customers to “sip while they shop”.

Sundays are my days off…always.  I don’t work Sundays, and I like it that way.  The man who I work for is more than happy to work on Sundays, and honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better working relationship with my boss.  He is flexible with working hours, understanding in family appointments, and let’s me spend his money!  How awesome is that?  Seriously…I get to be the wine buyer and choose wines for the store, and he pays the bill.  Couldn’t ask for anything better.  I’m truly blessed.

You wanna talk about passion? This is it baby. Perhaps in reading, you may think this is a long week.  Yes, some weeks it is, but I love my job, and I am blessed to here, to be in this role, to be doing what I’m doing.  This is it.  How many people can say they work in their passion?  Not many, me thinks.  And I don’t go to work every day….I go partake in my passion everyday.  There’s a huge difference in that! Here’s to passion and great wine! Cheers!


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6 Responses to The Life of a Wine Retailer

  1. Thank you for sharing. Your life sound fun and exhausting but it does sound like you love it. Congratulations on your success and best wishes with studies!

  2. vinoinlove says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing some of your insights of the wine retailing business. Cheers!

    • joyofwine says:

      Thanks! It’s really enjoyable and even though it seems i do the same things week after week it’s really a new day everyday! And of course I love my customers too!

  3. SAHMmelier says:

    Was just wondering about what it would be like to have a wine shop. You answered! Nice to see you on here!

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