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Wine to 5: Daphne Teremetz, supermarket wine buyer

Inside a professional’s everyday life, Decanter speaks to Daphne Teremetz, a wine buyer for UK grocer Waitrose.

Daphne Teremetz is a wine buyer at UK grocer Waitrose, responsible for Bordeaux, Loire, Rhône and Alsace, and previously regional France, Burgundy and South America, too. Born in northern France, she is based in London and is a DWWA judge for French categories.

How did you get here?

I grew up partly in France, where wine was a big part of the culture. In order to fund my undergraduate degree in English literature, I worked in editorial and translation, but I knew I wanted to work in retail buying, hoping my career and my passion for wine would eventually go hand in hand. I worked my way up from a sales assistant at Marks & Spencer to a trainee range merchandiser in clothing. I enrolled with WSET’s London school to gain the relevant wine knowledge and to further train my palate. I remember thinking at the time, if nothing else, wine knowledge is a life skill! Then I transferred to the M&S wine team and gained my WSET diploma, going on to work at convenience retailer Spar for two years before being offered the Waitrose role in 2016.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Meeting people. The wine world is full of truly inspiring, talented folk. I have met some of my heroes and have to pinch myself regularly. French is my first language, and I understand some Spanish, Italian and German, and I have loved using my languages in this role.

And the worst?

Uncontrollable but devastating weather patterns can cause so much disruption. Early budding and late frosts, such as during spring 2017 and 2021 in many regions of France, can cause much distress to growers, low yields, and sometimes lower potential quality. We have to work even more closely with suppliers through difficult harvests and support each other as best we can. Fortunately, on the whole, 2022 was much better than 2021 in France!

What’s the most common misconception about your job?

That it’s all about flying around the world, tasting wine all day, every day. I don’t taste wine every day, but I do taste every week, and some weeks it is every day. I also spend a lot of time on spreadsheets and reports (which I also love!), but it’s not necessarily what people imagine me doing.

Your greatest moment, professionally?

Being offered the role at Waitrose in 2016 was phenomenal. Since joining, championing lesser-known or forgotten grape varieties like Terret Blanc, and then launching our Loved & Found range for such varieties, has been a thrill. We have since sourced delicious wines made from Petit Manseng, País, Clairette, Caladoc and Sauvignon Gris, with more to come.

And your greatest mistake?

Perhaps not recognising someone very well known at the Decanter World Wine Awards one year; they took it fantastically well, and I promptly swotted up afterwards!

Which wine styles do you most enjoy drinking yourself, for pleasure?

Blanc de blancs vintage Champagne; mature claret, oaked white Bordeaux; Muscadet; Savennières; wines made from Fer Servadou (also known as Braucol, from Marcillac or Gaillac); and Savagnin ouillé from the Jura. Ideally grown without pesticides, please. I do love wines from outside France, too!

What advice would you give someone keen to do what you do?

Be as passionate about customers and retail as you are about the wines. Getting experience and transferable skills from another product area but in a similar role can be useful. You need to be resourceful, with curiosity, and be a problem solver. Tasting ability is critical, too, and the ability to communicate what you are tasting, and to communicate with suppliers about what you are looking for.

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