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What training is needed to become a wine merchant?

Justice Derrick

In the land of 300 wine varieties, there are numerous training options available for those aspiring to become a wine merchant. Among the various professions in the wine industry, that of a wine merchant is one of the most versatile. From tending and cultivating vines to providing customer advice, managing inventory, and animating sales points, the diversity of tasks allows this beautiful profession to evolve constantly.

The role of a wine merchant

From fermentation to sales, a wine merchant can be involved in every step of the process. Acquiring commercial skills in addition to theoretical knowledge about wines and spirits is essential to becoming a versatile and reputable wine merchant within the sector.

Responsibilities and specializations

As a specialist in wine products, a wine merchant plays a vital role in the hospitality and restaurant sectors, as well as in wine cellars and gourmet grocery stores that cater to both novices and wine and spirit enthusiasts. The main mission of a wine merchant is to guide customers in their choices by offering wines that match their preferences and using the right vocabulary for their level of knowledge.

Prior to sales, a wine merchant may be involved in supervising fermentation and pressing. Fermentation is one of the first steps in red wine production, while pressing is a technique used in rosé winemaking. Comprehensive knowledge of oenology is therefore essential.

Bottling is then the responsibility of the wine merchant, who is also in charge of labeling and inventory management. Subsequently, the wine merchant adopts the role of a sales consultant, delivering the final product to customers.

Qualities and required skills

Above all, a wine merchant must have an undeniable passion for wine and spirits. Their curiosity and thirst for knowledge drive them to stay up-to-date with developments in the wine industry, such as new appellations, rare grape varieties, and innovative winemaking techniques.

In addition to the commercial aspect, the profession requires the ability to provide clear and concise advice, engage in meaningful conversations, and share knowledge with customers. A satisfied customer is one who feels understood and appreciated.

Furthermore, effective communication is an essential skill for successfully carrying out the responsibilities of a wine merchant. In addition to selling products to individuals, they must negotiate with professionals who place orders, such as hotels and restaurants. They also need to collaborate with sommeliers and cellar masters who may be involved in various missions.

The wine merchant training at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Oenology is one of the main areas of expertise that students at Le Cordon Bleu Paris can acquire. 

The Wine & Management Diploma

Le Cordon Bleu Paris collaborates with the Institut Georges Chappaz (University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne) to offer the Wine & Management Diploma, a programme focused on wine-related professions and management in the wine industry. This internationally renowned training provides students with a unique opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about the world of wine. From vine to tasting, they develop their skills in management and commerce and earn a dual diploma in "Wine & Management" and "Wine Culture Heritage and Tourism."

The primary objective of the Wine & Management programme is to train qualified and passionate professionals capable of excelling in the wine and spirits industry. Students are introduced to viticultural techniques, oenology, wine tasting, and the selection of quality wines. Simultaneously, they are prepared for the commercial and managerial aspects required to succeed in the wine sector.

During the 10-month programme, students immerse themselves in the world of oenology by exploring different grape varieties, winemaking techniques, cellar management, sensory analysis, and other aspects of the wine industry. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to make four trips to French vineyards, sharpening their palates and refining their ability to recognize and appreciate the characteristics of wines.

Who can take our wine merchant training course?

The Wine & Management Diploma programme offered by Le Cordon Bleu Paris is open to a wide audience, regardless of the candidates' level. It caters to wine enthusiasts who wish to deepen their knowledge and broaden their expertise. Professionals seeking to enhance their skills in the art of tasting and food and wine pairing are, of course, welcome. Novice enthusiasts, restaurateurs eager to learn more, wine merchants, and other ambitious sommeliers need only submit their applications, making sure to adhere to the indicated enrollment dates.

However, certain prerequisites must be met:

-    Be at least 18 years old
-    Hold a high school diploma or its equivalent
-    Have a good level of English (classes are conducted in English)

The tuition fees for the Wine & Management Diploma programme amount to €22,500 (this sum includes registration fees, four trips, tastings, and the uniform).

Testimonials from our former wine students

Le Cordon Bleu Paris boasts a strong network of former students, many of whom have achieved the success they desired after completing their studies at the institute. 

As for the Wine & Management programme, Samantha Becker had the opportunity to experience it during the 2015-2016 academic year. She shares her thoughts on the visits organized by Le Cordon Bleu:

"Our class visited various cognac houses, from the smaller and more 'artisanal' ones like Tesseron to the larger ones like Hennessy. We tasted several selections of cognac and had food pairings with each tasting. Each host was very welcoming and made me feel welcome and comfortable. Having the chance to see the practical approach of each distiller was very special. It was truly an incredible experience to be on the other side of the world tasting cognac. The trip was also very luxurious, as the chateau where we stayed was very classically French and decorated."