Wine Workers

The “fun” wine job

There are so many wine workers who schlep around wine all day long. And beer and liquor. Most are underpaid and overworked. But we do it for the love of the product. A couple of times a week, a customer will comment that my “job must be a lot of fun!” Sometime I explain the backbreaking, bunion creating work that I do. But mostly I say, “it sure is!”

To be honest, selling wine in a grocery store was not on my list of dream jobs when I went into the culinary industry. But with the twists and turns God guided me through, I have found myself doing the very thing I did not want to do. That I landed here is a combination of choices and the stuff we all have to go through in life. I landed here because I had to step back from life for awhile to manage major changes. I took the job because I know wine and I needed money. It wasn’t a goal, but it is a job. Financially, it’s unsustainable to stay in the job without some side gigs. It doesn’t cover monthly expenses and because it’s part time, there are no benefits. In grocery, the full time gigs in beer and wine are rare, and if you find one you may want to keep it. So to the customers who think this is fun, I lie and agree that it’s a fun job. Why bother explaining it to them?
Here’s the real story of beer and wine sales.

I spend most of my day cold. It’s cold in grocery stores, but add on the need to keep all the wine at or below 65 degrees year round, Then there’s the beer coolers. The beer is kept at a chilly 34 degrees and if the cases are open, as ours are, then know that it will be between 55 and 58 degrees all day every day.

It’s a dirty job. Every day, we crawl around on the floor, loading shelves or pulling bottles forward. People walk on the floors in the shoes that they were wearing when they stepped in dog poop before they got in the car. They walked through the parking lot where some dude just hocked a luge. There are rats and roaches in the stores. I know you didn’t want to know that, but yeah. There are traps all over the store.

Bottles break, so there’s glass shards. We do the best we can to sweep them up, but a few get missed. Wine is sticky when it dries. It’s grape juice with loads of natural sugars.

The floors are concrete. It hurts to walk on them all day long, no matter how good your shoes are. I have multiple foot problems from the years spent standing and walking on concrete.
Tasting wine is not easy. It takes skill, practice, a good nose, and good palate, and a higher than normal tolerance for alcohol. Even if we swish and spit, a buzz can be had.

It’s easy to become addicted to alcohol, especially when you have to drink for a living, even if it’s not everyday. There is an unspoken requirement to drink and try new products. It keeps our mind and palette practiced.

It’s very physically demanding, see above. But there are also cases of wine to move, bottles to shift, beer to stock, pallets to move, carts that have to be moved, ladders to climb, and customers who need a hand.

Speaking of customers, some are really rude. Some blame me for problems I have no control over. I didn’t decide to stop carrying your favorite wine, so pick something else. Their kids are often unruly and feel the need to touch everything. They argue. And seriously, I’m sorry you’re having such a sucky day, but you really don’t have to take it out on me. They come into the store so sick that I get sick. Remember, no benefits, which means no sick days. I lose a day of pay.

Obviously, I am whining. I can make changes and I am looking for a better job. This just slowed the flow of money out of savings. I build websites and take photos. I write, I make food and cooking videos. But the cash flow for those activities is spotty at best. So tomorrow I will get out of bed, head to the supermarket, and schlep beer and wine. And I will keep doing it until a better opportunity comes along, or better, I become a famous blogger and my writing is in demand.

Sure, the job is fun, let me know when you can start.