Ah, work. For most of us, it’s the thing which takes up that irritating stretch of time between crawling out of bed in the morning, and getting home to that lovely glass of wine in the evening.
We all know that the ideal job is one which involves your passion. For some people, this involves getting to travel, or to work with interesting people, music, film or wild animals.
However, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I think it’s safe to assume exactly where your passion lies... and just imagine being one of the lucky people that gets to work with your favourite alcoholic drinks every day! It’s the grown-up equivalent of all those childhood Willy Wonka fantasies, of one day running your own chocolate factory and being let loose in a world of sugar-fueled pleasures.
Of course, some people would claim that the thrill would soon fade… but we all know that’s absolute rubbish - working with booze and getting to taste your creations would be nothing short of awesome.
Hidden Hands Behind the Scenes
What a lot of people don’t realise is that there are a lot of jobs out there involving alcohol and the production of alcohol, which don’t require you to stand behind a bar and chat to old men downing pint after pint.
Wineries and breweries - certainly some of the bigger ones - are often major employers, requiring a plethora of talents from grape growers to grape pickers, bottle designers to marketing experts, tasting room runners to professional tasters.
There are complex and fascinating operations going on behind every bottle and every brand - from the smallest, independent label to the major wine houses with multinational offices.
One of our favourite things about the wine industry (and other booze-related industries) are the unique, odd, eccentric jobs that need to be done, but which are rarely given a thought by the majority of us when we’re enjoying a bottle in the evening.
These are often the real dreamy vocations - the kind of jobs that, if you were to meet someone at a party who did one, you’d be quick to corner them in the kitchen, ask them a million questions, and try and wrangle your way into a work experience program before the night was out. Or ask them to marry you - one or the other.
Let’s take a look at some of our favourites.
Super Nose For Hire
This isn’t a job for everybody. Not because it involves anything particularly dangerous, difficult or unpleasant (quite the opposite, in fact), but because it involves skills and abilities which very, very few people possess, and which are more akin to some sort of superpowers than the usual things you see on the average CV.
A tiny percentage of people have olfactory abilities which are on the same level as sniffer dogs, and while this might be something of a curse in some situations (I imagine they tend to avoid busy commuter buses in the summer months…) they do tend to end up in jobs in the top wine, food and perfume companies in the world, where their innate talents have people clambering over each other to make use of them.
Expert sniffers, and those with super-sensitive noses are employed in the drinks industry to pick up all of those obscure, bizarre and difficult to detect scents which end up on the backs of wine bottles.
They can also actually play a significant role in guiding the general direction a winery takes with their produce, too, as their advice on what to focus on and what to avoid can make a significant difference to future vintages.
If you thought wine and whisky barrels were cheap items that vintners have kicking around their wineries, you’d be in for a shock.
It’s an industry with several layers of cost, from the lumberjacks who have to get special permits and licenses to cut down the majestic French oak trees, to the coopers who hand build the barrels, using traditions which stretch back through the centuries.
Interestingly, used barrels are often in higher demand than the new ones. You might suppose this is because they will be cheaper, having had gallon upon gallon of wine stored in them for years at a time, but there’s actually another reason for them being so sought-after.
Producers of American whiskey and Scotch whisky regular age their produce in red wine barrels, as they lend a unique and impossible to replicate flavour and aroma. It’s these used barrels which require the attention of a barrel dealer, or broker - an enterprising role which involves the selling on of used red wine barrels, often to buyers on the other side of an ocean.
They’ll be able to source wooden barrels for distilleries which have exactly the aroma and flavour they’re after - whether that’s a huge sherry barrel from Jerez in Spain, soaked in those distinctive Christmassy flavours of sugar and spice, or a small Bordeaux barrel used for some of the finest red wines on earth.
Custom Cellar Designer
The whims of the rich and powerful can be strange and wonderful things. It seems over the past ten years, wine and spirits have not only proven themselves to be solid and reliable investments, but they’ve also become highly fashionable things to get into.
Rock stars, movie stars, Instagram millionaires and old-fashioned ‘old money’ rich kids are all either opening wineries in their name, or getting in on the wine scene in increasingly ostentatious and spectacular ways.
These people might have their yachts and country estates, but nothing makes a statement quite like a custom made, novelty wine cellar - and where there’s demand, there are always people willing to put their skills to good use.
Many top wine collectors and wineries are blasting caves into the sides of mountains, and converting them into atmospheric, fantastically gloomy wine cellars, others are having theirs constructed from futuristic materials, and others still are going the whole hog, and having mock-medieval cellars complete with flickering candlelight and vaulted ceilings installed beneath their houses.
It all looks like a lot of fun (although I’m a firm believer that wine is made to be drunk and enjoyed, rather than squirreled away underground!).
The way products are marketed has changed completely. The rise of social media has impacted all of our lives (oh, if only I could get those hours wasted on Facebook back!) and it’s inspired a new generation of marketing executives in the wine and spirit world to approach things a little differently.
Nowadays, people looking for a great bottle to take home, or a spirit to drink with friends on a night out are going to pay a lot more attention to Instagram feeds and Twitter than they do to traditional print advertisements.
This has led to certain movers and shakers being paid by alcohol producers to ‘manage the perceptions’ of certain drinks, among certain audiences.
What does this mean? Well, if a spirit producer wants to reach a new customer base, they are going to target that customer base by getting social media ‘influencers’ to be seen in some cool bar drinking it… and of course getting plenty of selfies in the process.
It’s a little bit like the modern version of a celebrity endorsement, only less obvious, more clever, and potentially far more wide-reaching. Check out our favourite Perth wino Travelling Corkscrew for a good example of this job done well!
And now it's time to get onto our most favourite part.. drinking wine! Click the link below and take our wine profile quiz and we'll choose the top 3 wines which we think you'll love! Click here: to take our Wine Palate Quiz and match your personal tastes to the three bottles we think you'll love most.