The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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1 16  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2018 HOT SHOT ForceBrands: What inspired you to join the beverage industry? Justin Argenti: I grew up within a family very rooted in the fashion world. My father built a very successful dress business from nothing, and even as a child I saw its growth potential. It was my first passion and something I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life. I also saw my parents' zest for life: They love food and wine and they love to travel. When I was a kid, my father would ask me to go down to his wine cellar to find specific bottles for him. I would always choose the wrong one, not being able to read French, and inevitably would have to go back down several times in search for the correct bottle. I guess his love affair with great Bordeaux wines rubbed off, because when he and I closed our relaunched version of his dress company in 2012, my first thought was, "Why not wine?" I wanted a new challenge and the beverage industry was something I knew very little about, but in which I had a vested interest. I had the opportunity to sit down with a friend at Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits and knew right away that this was a world I could see myself being success- ful in. My experience in the garment center was the perfect training ground for dealing with the breadth of personalities I would encounter selling wine. FB: What excites you most about the work you're doing? JA: I love sitting down with the owner or chef of a new restaurant/bar and designing the entire wine and spirits program with them. There is nothing more gratifying to me than when a restaurant opens and people are talking about the cocktails or the wine list as often as they mention the food. I think the pairings are more important than the aver- age consumer realizes—there's an art to it, a feel that comes with experience. FB: What are some of the biggest industry trends you've observed in the past six months? JA: For decades the industry was dominated, and still is to some extent, by massive wine and spirit brands. What I love to see now is the emergence, and success, of craft spirits. Hundreds of small-batch whiskey, gin, and vodka labels have flooded the market, raising the bar on quality and showing consumers that there are better options. This, of course, has been launched forward by the cocktail culture we find ourselves in today and the emergence of truly talented bartenders and mixology specialists. FB: What's some of the best advice you have for people looking to get into wine sales? JA: I've seen very different types of people try to do this work. Some are gifted sommeliers, some are just hardcore salespeople, and others are here just to make money. My best advice would be to remember that you have to be a salesper- son first and a sommelier second, if not third. Anyone who's been in wine or spirit sales will tell you that relationships are everything, so from whichever angle you're coming into this world, manage your relationships! A Q&A with Justin Argenti, SALES CONSULTANT, WINE ON-PREMISE DIVISION, SOUTHERN GLAZER'S WINES & SPIRITS, EMERALD DIVISION, METRO NY

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