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Q: Wine Specialist vs. Wine Educator?

by David on December 4, 2006

Question from Terri: Ms. Hawks Miller could you please tell me what is the difference between a wine specialist and a wine educator?

Answer: Hi, Terri! What an interesting question!  I wonder if you’re contemplating a career as a wine specialist or educator. If so, please let me know, because I can steer you toward several excellent certification programs.

There’s no official difference that I’m aware of, but in common use, I associate the title “Wine Specialist” with a sales position. For instance, a huge distribution company carries wine, beer and spirits and they use the title “Wine Specialist” to tell you that this person is knowledgeable about wine specifically and may not handle beer or spirits. Retailers may use the title to indicate that the person on the floor is much more than a clerk and is there to help you make a selection.

A “Wine Educator” is usually working more in a marketing, PR or customer relations capacity but, again, there’s no rule. There are certified Wine Educators who may work for wineries or distributors in order to educate their accounts about the wine, thus encouraging sales. Sometimes they work as Sommeliers or as wine buyers for retailers. Many wineries have several “wine educators”, with varying levels of expertise, on staff to serve wine and conduct seminars for the wine trade and for the public.

So, I think we’re talking semantics! I hope this was helpful! Cheers! Nancy

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