How to be a wine writer - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

If being a wine writer is all about ‘tasting vast quantities of wine’, why isn’t everyone doing it? Because as wine writer Geoff Adams explains in his chapter on Wine Journalism (Specialist Journalism, Routledge, £34.99): ‘it can be difficult to commission a sufficient amount of work within this speciality alone to make a good living’. But if that hasn’t put you off, then how do you go about becoming a wine writer?

Specialist JournalismStart by knowing your subject and educating your palate, although Geoff also includes ‘visiting the regions, wineries and vineyards’ in his list of must-haves. But the economics of wine writing make this a bit of a pipe dream for the beginner.

So go for the cheaper option – the library or the charity shop book shelf. Here you’ll find a vast range of slightly dated but still useful wine knowledge including Larousse Wine Encyclopedia (my own copy is 1994).

Yes there is the internet but as all wine writers discover early on – you must be sure of your sources. Website wine information is often both useful and inspiring but it can be an inaccurate rehash copied from another website, which was copied from another infinitum. In this way myths and inaccuracies persist.

Okay, but what about the educating the palate bit? Geoff suggests choosing ‘wines of individuality...which can be used to train the eye, nose and palate’ from the new and old world wine regions, but not the ‘mass-produced cheap wines that taste the same wherever in the world they are made’.

Here I have to disagree with Geoff, cheap wines (those usually priced at £6 or under) may, more often than not, be mass produced but it does not necessarily follow that they will all taste the same: a Cabernet Sauvignon from the vast wine farms of Australia usually tastes of diluted jam, while the same grape variety grown in the south of France produces a wine that too may be sweet but has a background of balancing tannin.

All wines are a learning opportunity. So dismiss them at your peril.

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