Welcome to the wonderful world of wine concierges. It’s a magical world, where everything revolves around helping people find the wines they love. So magical, in fact, that one of our writers once affectionately referred to it as a “unicorn job.” A job so unique, so fascinating, so entertaining, that it couldn’t actually be real (spoiler alert: it is.). We sat down with Brooke, one of Bright Cellars’ most seasoned concierges, to learn a little more.
FTC: Brooke, walk us through a day in the life of a wine concierge. What does your daily schedule look like?
Brooke: After my morning cup (or two) of coffee, I settle in and immediately dive into member emails. These email requests range from general wine questions to subscription adjustments to taste profile updates. Once I’ve responded to every request, I start organizing the rest of my day. Typically I set aside a few hours at the end of the day for member reachout calls. Essentially, I grab some vino and a conference room and contact our current Bright Cellars members to chat about their personal taste profile and wine matches they’ve received. Based on our convo, I work to match them with new wines in our inventory that I think they’ll really enjoy. I also ask for any feedback they might have, and genuinely listen to see how their experience is going thus far, or how we can improve for future months.
FTC: What’s your favorite Bright Cellars wine?
Brooke: That’s a tough question. I have to choose the first one that comes to my mind right now, which is the Folk & Fable Red Blend. I love the fact that it’s partially aged in bourbon barrels; it has delicious caramelized, toasty notes of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, and it reminds me of fall every time I drink it.
FTC: What wine would you recommend for someone who’s just getting into vino?
Brooke: It definitely depends on whether you prefer red or white wines. For red wines, I usually suggest a light-bodied Pinot Noir or Red Blend, a fruit-forward Zinfandel or a well-balanced Merlot, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. As for whites, I like to recommend a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, semi-sweet White Blend or citrusy Pinot Grigio for starters. After trying a few of these, I’ll have a much better idea of what you like or dislike (in terms of body, acidity, bitterness, sweetness, etc.), and I’ll be able to suggest wines you’ll love even more from there.
FTC: What’s your favorite part about working in the wine industry?
Brooke: The best part about being involved in this industry is the fact that I learn something new literally every day. The wine world is massive. Not even the master-est of Master Sommeliers knows everything there is to know about it. Before I started here, I was probably just as clueless as the next newbie in the wine shop. If someone asked me about a Cabernet Sauvignon, I would have said, “I know it’s a red wine, and I know that I like it.” I now know that the Cab Sauv grape produces a full-bodied, highly tannic red wine with low acidity and that it’s the offspring of the Cabernet Franc grape and Sauvignon Blanc grape. It’s also the most planted wine grape in the entire world (super fun fact!). Pretty cool stuff that I would have never known if I had not started a career in this industry. The fact that I get to taste and learn about these wines alongside my team (who I am proud to call my great friends) is just the cherry on top.
FTC: What is one of the biggest misconceptions from members about their wine matches?
Brooke: A frequent misconception is the thought that our members’ initial quiz answers are the only bits of information that we use to pair them with their monthly wine matches. While our taste profile quiz and algorithm both give us incredible insight into what someone will enjoy, there are several factors we look at and use to make sure each member is receiving wines that they will truly love. Making sure you love your matches is the biggest and best part of my job! Members are able to call our concierge team directly, send us an email or leave us notes for review on their profile at any time. All of this information helps us continuously improve personalized wine matches going forward.
FTC: What’s the most common question you receive from Bright Cellars’ members?
Brooke: “But what if I don’t want the wine that I was matched with?” We got yo’ back! Our concierge team can easily fix that by swapping out that wine with another. While we like to think we know your tastes to a “T,” everyone makes mistakes. But we are happy to make up for those mistakes and take note of any preferences you have for us. We’re here to help you discover wine you’ve never thought about trying but want to be sure you are enjoying them as well!
FTC: Based on your experience as a wine concierge, if you could tell your members one piece of advice about wine, what would it be?
Brooke: The best piece of advice I have for y’all is simple: just try it. Before I started as a wine concierge, I was so limited in my selections. I knew of two wines that I loved, so that’s what I stuck with. I never gave others a chance. Once I started working for this company and attended weekly wine tastings, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of wine. What’s the worst thing that can happen? If you try a wine and don’t love it, at least you have a better sense of what characteristics you truly do enjoy. #discoverwineyoulove
FTC: What’s a wine and food pairing you love, but you’d be embarrassed for your members to find out about?
Brooke: You may think I’m nuts, but I was eating blueberry graham ice cream once (let’s be real, I eat ice cream every day) and I was thinking how good it would taste paired with a red wine. I love dry reds almost as much as I love ice cream. Pairing red wine with dessert is a pretty unconventional choice, but I had to at least try it. This was one of the best calls I’ve made, like, ever. Syrah often has notes of blueberry, so it paired pretty perfectly.
FTC: What’s your favorite thing about working for a startup company?
Brooke: I love being involved in numerous projects because the outcomes always leave me feeling like I’m bettering Bright Cellars’ future. It’s so rewarding knowing that my successes as an individual contribute to the company’s overall success.
FTC: What are some of the things you’ve gained as an individual working as a wine concierge?
Brooke: This job always keeps me on my toes, strengthens my confidence and encourages me to think outside of the box. Working for a start up company means that anything is possible. Which is why this is one of the most simultaneously difficult and rewarding experiences.