Wine merchant

Vintner, wine trader

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Wine merchants find new wines and buy and market them.

Salary range: £16,000 to £35,000

How to become a wine merchant

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • a graduate training scheme
  • a professional course from a private training provider


You could start in the wine trade as a sales assistant for an off-licence chain, a wine wholesalers or a supermarket.

Direct application

You can apply directly to get into this job. You’ll usually need retail experience and extensive product knowledge to be an independent wine merchant.

Other routes

You could start work with a large wine retailer as a graduate management trainee, if you have a degree. Employers will accept most subjects.

You could also take training through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust to build up your knowledge of the industry.

More information

Career tips

The ability to speak French, Spanish, Portuguese, German or Italian might be useful for working with overseas wine exporters.

Further information

You’ll find more advice about working in wine retail through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

To work as a manager, buyer or importer, you’ll usually need a UK driving licence.

For retail sales you must be at least 18 years old.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • ordering and displaying stock
  • organising promotions, including wine tastings
  • offering advice on wines and serving customers
  • taking payment for goods
  • managing sales targets
  • keeping accounts and records
  • following and enforcing the legal requirements for the sale of alcohol
  • recruiting, training and organising staff

Working environment

You could work at a store or at a client’s business.

Career path and progression

With experience you could become an independent wine merchant. You’ll need funds and a well-researched business plan. 

You could also progress to become a Master of Wine (MW). This is the British wine trader’s highest qualification.

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