To many, it’s a dream job. Sipping, selling and speaking about wine professionally. For Konstantin Baum, the career in wine started off like so many others with an intent to work in gastronomy. As part of his vocational training, he pursued certification as a Master of Wine. A few years, several grand and some 30+ blind tasted wines later, Konstantin earned his Master of Wine certification, becoming the youngest-ever German to do so. Here is where his story veers off into uncharted territory: instead of going back to the restaurant biz exclusively, he took to social media to stand out. His channel, Master of Wine, is one of the largest channels on YouTube devoted to wine. In this episode of the OMR Podcast, we spoke about his YouTube channel, his social media content, monetization and community-building strategies, and other business verticals revolving around his passion for vino.
Becoming a Master of Wine
Konstantin’s journey to wine-influencer started with a simple realization: Gastronomy in the traditional scope was not for him. “Being one of many sommeliers or people interested in wine that spent their life working on the floor of restaurants was not something that appealed to me,” said Konstantin Baum in the OMR Podcast. He therefore needed to do something drastic and unique. “I decided to try and become one of the only 400 Masters of Wine in the world. It’s a very special qualification that not many people carry.” In 2015, Konstantin graduated as a Master of Wine—and did so as the youngest-ever from Germany.
The Master of Attention
“It helped me reached a new level and boost my profile. But as it always is, when you reach what you think is the top of the mountain, you realize it’s just another plateau. So I thought, how can I set myself apart amongst the Masters of Wine?” Konstantin saw his opportunity in an area that the analogue world of wine has not readily adopted: social media. “Many of the old guard are not into social media, so I knew if I could make it on social media, I could set myself up to have a career I am passionate about, while also building a business.”
As far as inspiration goes, Konstantin said that there were countless people who helped him and acted as mentors along the way. “There is one person, however, who might be really relevant to digital marketing, Gary Vaynerchuk.” Gary V, master of hype, prolific content creator and friend of the OMR family, helped Konstantin Baum with wine? “He had the hottest Wine program on social media back then. He managed to set himself apart from the masters at a time by doing that, at a time when no one else was creating video content.” For his part, Konstantin would not only watch Gary V’s content, but also critique it. “We would send messages back and forth, and I would critique his wine knowledge a little bit, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities of combining wine with the new media landscape.”
YouTube is the only platform I enjoy consuming content on
After receiving his Master of Wine qualification in 2015, Konstantin posted his first few videos to YouTube, but it was nothing serious and he soon put that project on ice, until the pandemic hit. “I usually travel a lot, like half of my time is spent on the road, traveling through wine regions or hosting events.” With that off the table, Konstantin started his YouTube channel in earnest. “YouTube is the only platform I enjoy consuming content on. So I had this free time now and began putting out videos almost once a week.”
He made one more tweak to his channel that on the surface seems counterintuitive: he changed the channel’s language from German to English. “Strategically, you want to niche down on social media, because there is so much stuff. Wine is still a small niche, however. My channel is one of, if not the, biggest wine channels in the world.” Switching to English helped him quickly reach critical mass and build a community that was large enough for him to engage with. “If I put something out now, hundreds of people comment and engage with me and with each other. And with English, I can obviously reach more people than just with German.”
Check out the full episode of the OMR Podcast International with Konstantin Baum for more on the business he has built, the status quo of wine, some tips for buying wine and a live wine tasting.