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11.01.2006

The Saleswoman and The Critic

Thinking about a career in the wine world? Seems like a lot of people are interested in getting out from behind a desk and working in an industry that aligns more with their passions. Of course everyone imagines the fringe benefits are pretty good, too. There are a lot of different jobs to have in the wine world, and this week saw a couple of excellent articles about two different jobs as seen through the eyes of very accomplished women.

Jancis Robinson is arguably the most famous woman in the wine world. Among other things she is the author of the venerable Oxford Companion to Wine, which was just released in its third edition. But she is a lot of other things besides the author of the essential reference text on wine. A very nice piece in the New York Times by Eric Asimov profiles Robinson this week as she comes to the states on her book tour for the new edition of the Oxford Companion. The job of a wine critic, especially a world famous one, isn't easy, and Robinson nearly always seems to carry it off with grace.

If there's anything harder than being a wine critic it might be wine sales. Lettie Teague writes this month in Food and Wine about her failed attempts to be a wine saleswoman early in her career. Her article is actually the story of two high powered wine women -- Teague (who found her calling in writing rather than selling, and whose skill clearly illuminates the subject of her article) and Deirdre Ledwitz, the head of sales for a New York wine distributor. The article is a great window into how wine gets sold to restaurants and what it takes to be a good salesperson, regardless of your gender.

Both articles are worth a your time. Thanks to Jeff at The Good Grape for the tip-off on the Food and Wine article.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.