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): ‘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?
Start 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 Encyclopedia of Wine (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 website…ad 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.
PG Wine Reviews
Tesco Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Light blackcurrant and liquorice flavours with a touch of chocolate. Good value wine that’s very drinkable.
Co-op Fairtrade South African Chardonnay 2016
£4.99 Co-op (down from £5.99 until September 5)
Light and fruity white with flavours of lemon, apple and honey.
Camino de Angel Chilean Malbec
£5.75 Sainsbury’s (down from £6.25 until August 29)
Sourced and bottled for Sainsbury’s – so if you want it you’ll have to go here. Blackberry and dark chocolate.
Fruit Orchestra South African Chenin Blanc Viognier 2016
£5.99 Co-op (down from £7.99 until September 5)
Remember that TV ad for the fizzy drink with ‘tropical fruit flavours’? Well this is the wine version: mango and pineapple.
Most Wanted New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2016
£7 Sainsbury’s (down from £8 until August 29)
Very fruity white with gooseberry then passionfruit flavours – expect sharp then creaminess.
Chateau Toutigeac Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2016
£7.99 Bordeaux Undiscovered.
Apple, almond and pear.