Richard Hemming wrote this great summary of the state of wine writing in 2017.
I lead a somewhat contradictory life as a PR person and as a wine writer. Although seemingly opposite jobs, my day-to-day life working in wine PR teaches me greatly about writing and, I hope, makes me a better writer myself. As I am writing this on my lunch break, my desk looks like a newspaper spontaneously combusted on it. I have cuttings of wine columns and wine mentions appearing from every orifice. I have 31 tabs open on Firefox, the majority of which lead to wine articles and Twitter feeds. When I’m working, and when I’m not working, I’m reading wine articles. I am obsessed. I have post-it notes all over my desk with wine writers’ names on them as reminders to scan/send samples/read articles/send articles/suggest wines, repeat. The cycle goes on.
I am lucky to work for incredible clients, all of whom create wines I really believe in. Part of my job is to create engaging content and material about their wines and vineyards, and to communicate this to wine writers. If wine writers as a result like the wines and write about them, then my job is done and I’m happy. I will have helped to achieve recognition for a winemaker somewhere in the world, whether that be for a £6 wine or a £50 wine, from a tiny pocket in Gascony or a majestic vineyard in Chile. I also will have opened somebody’s eyes to an aspect of wine and given that person a nugget of information or a memory of taste to store in their brain, which also makes me happy. It is incredibly fulfilling.
This Twitter feed features @thesommelieruk. @Thesommelieruk seemingly would like to write. He or she said there should be more columns at the bottom end, stating, “Would love to (write) but....magazines want names and reputations and then those folk already preach to the converted. I will not get a notice as who the hell am I? Do wineshow presenters look like adsa £3.50 drinkers? Or even £4.99ers? On offer!”
Sigh. There are a few things wrong here.
Wine presenters looking like Asda £3.50 drinkers
"Wineshow presenters" aren't Asda £3.50 drinkers, although I'm not really sure what you mean here by looking like one. Anyway, back to the £3.50. If you are an Asda £3.50 drinker (which at the moment will buy you this on offer priced at £3.50 down from £4.48, which I personally think is a huge insult to wine, “Aromatized Wine-Product Cocktail,” what the f*** even is that – please don’t put wine in my aromatized cocktail, and please don’t aromatize my cocktail in the first place), I really don’t think you’re going to care that much about the contents, or want to. Unless that Aromatized Wine-Product Cocktail is so gross that it persuades you to spend a little bit more on your wine next time, we are really unlikely to convert the £3.50ers anyway. If you really care about wine, you would buy something else with £3.50. Maybe a beer.
Check out the Vinonomics by Bibendum below. If £5 only gives you 37p for the actual wine and thus for the grower, £3.50 will give you barely anything. Those vineyards are highly unlikely to be well tended and the wine will not give you a profound experience, let alone a positive experience in the first place.
I do see your point that we need to provide wine recommendations for those with less money to spend. If you have less to spend on wine, and you wish to spend between £5 and £10, our national wine writers are doing a fantastic job already. Jamie and Matthew’s columns, for example, cite great GV bottles for under £10 every week. I wouldn't say they "preach to the converted" - anybody is able to pick up the Sunday Express to read Jamie's recommendations. This consumer isn't necessarily already a convert.
Magazines want names and reputations
Yes, of course they do, and they should! Wine writers have spent yearsandyearsandyearsandyearandyears learning about wine and writing about wine. Some are completely and utterly dedicated to it. Jamie Goode spent the majority of this year travelling in order to communicate as much as possible about wine. Richard wrote this song entirely dedicated to grape varieties in 2010. Neal Martin has written 204,959 words on Burgundy. It’s comparable to a sports company hiring a famous athlete for an advertisement. Adidas hired Nastia Liukin for this advert. Would they have hired someone who isn’t entirely dedicated to gymnastics? Don’t think so. Wine writers have reputations because they are dedicated.
So, wine writers, thank you for being dedicated. Thank you for another great year working with you all and for inspiring me. I look forward to another year with you all.