If you love drinking, tasting and talking about wine – whether that means the best Australian Pinot Noir, top Italian wines in Australia or other varieties – and you can write well, then you might have what it takes to become a wine writer. Here are a few tips for getting started.
What traits do you need?
You might be suited to wine writing if:
- You have a love of wine and you enjoy talking about wine with others.
- You regularly read wine reviews and articles or books on wine, or you subscribe to wine publications or websites.
- You love tasting different wines – and you can actually tell the difference between them!
- You have a good basic understanding of viticulture and winemaking.
- Last but not least – you can write well! This means you know your grammar from your grandma and you can spell and put sentences together correctly. It’s also important you can write in an engaging and fun way rather than just put something out that sounds like a school essay.
If you are already a writer or blogger and you know a bit about wine you may have a good head start!
How to get started
- Do a course to learn more about wine, such as a Level 1, 2 or 3 Certificate course from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
- Unless you are already a professional writer, consider doing a writing or communications course.
- Learn how to gear your writing to different audiences. For instance, do you want to write blogs for interested people, consumers or interest groups, or would you rather write for the experts?
- Be prepared to go beyond the basics of wine-pairings and tasting notes, but to delve deeper into the nitty gritty (without making it boring of course!).
- Enter writing competitions, such as the Gourmet Traveller New Wine Writer Award.
- Call magazine or website editors and ask if you can submit your work.
- Start your own wine blog.
The Wine Communicators of Australia Awards
You can also help build a profile through entering awards. The 2015 WCA awards are coming up, with entries opening on July 8. Categories include the Wine Communicator of the Year and New Wine Writer of the Year.
Winners in the 2014 awards included:
- Wine Communicator of the Year – food and wine journalist Jeni Port. Jeni writes for Good Food, The Age Epicure and other publications.
- New Wine Writer of the Year – Charley May. Charley is the Communications Manager for Fowles Wine.
- Best Wine Publication – James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine. James is a leading wine writer who started out in a legal career but was led astray by his love of wine! He is also an avid collector of wines.
Some tips from the experts
Charley May: Charley says that not having a background in wine is no problem, as it helps with bringing in a fresh perspective and communicating in a non-intimidating way. Charley has also done WSET certificate courses to improve her knowledge of winemaking.
James Halliday: James recommends keeping it simple, and avoiding talking about dozens of flavours (in tasting notes for example). He also recommends learning about winemaking, and entering awards.
Gourmet Traveller: in speaking about their New Wine Writer Award, they recommend:
- Choose a relevant topic, and make it succinct and interesting.
- Make sure your facts are right.
- Use good grammar and spelling.
- Make it fun to read.
- Avoid long-winded stories about yourself.
A final tip – if you want to make a living out of wine writing, be prepared to have other strings to your bow in the meantime, at least until you are rich and famous!