On Understanding Wine & Wine Writers

Posted: Dec 09, 2020

Most serious (and some not so serious) wine writers are invited on press trips to experience wine regions around the world. They attend tastings and seminars, visit vineyards, learn about the specifics of producers’ viticulture and vinification practices and get a sense of the cultural and historical context of the wine, food and people of the area being visited.

So much in understanding wine also involves understanding regional context, the differences between vineyard sites, the relationship of grape variety to site and the people responsible for production. These press trips can be invaluable learning experiences and most experienced wine writers, including many of Quench’s contributors, have visited numerous wine growing regions around the globe in this manner. There is no substitute for being in the place.

The reality is that most writers generate the majority of their income from sources other than writing — that is, unfortunately the norm today — and simply do not have the resources to visit multiple wine regions without participating in these organized trips for which flights, accommodation and most meal expenses are covered or reimbursed.

Almost always, there is an expectation that the writer will produce an article inspired by some aspect of the trip. That tends to be the trade-off. But at what point does editorial become advertorial?

In my opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with writers accepting and participating in these trips. The objectivity and source of the content produced becomes the issue and the integrity of the writers, editors and publication are paramount.

It is imperative, in my opinion, that the article produced is not influenced — and the content not guided by, pre-approved or previewed in any way — by the trip organizers or participating producers. Also, the writer should not be compelled to write an article that is unequivocally positive.

By Gurvinder Bhatia 
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