The rise of social media over the last few years means that the resources for learning about wine, like learning about most things, have become more readily available than ever. The click of a mouse brings so much information to hand that we barely know where to begin. Wine writing used to be reserved for an elite handful of MW-qualified industry professionals but now the phenomenon of blogging has brought wine writing to the masses – anyone who enjoys wine can become a wine writer. With so many blogs and columns and even an increasing amount of video devoted to wine, where should we start?
First of all ask yourself what you want to know – if your interest in wine extends no further than knowing what to invest in, subscribe to a decent wine investment blog and the Financial Times, and start familiarising yourself with the works of Robert Parker. But if your passion for wine is more than simply collecting it, then you should make the most of the channels that are available to you. A fellow called Gary Vaynerchuk began to shake things up a few years ago when he launched the video podcast known as Wine Library TV. In the YouTube phenomenon that was the first of its kind, Vaynerchuk dished out wine advice and tips on wine appreciation in a personable style that proved extremely popular and far removed from the stuffy perception that many of us still had about wine journalism.
Although Vaynerchuk, a passionate entrepreneur, has moved on to bigger and better things, his videos have spawned a host of others to bring wine tasting to the masses on YouTube. Many of these are best avoided, unless your idea of wine education is watching two Californian ladies glug bad wine while describing Pinot Noir as ‘Super Great’.
Jamie Goode’s excellent blog offers a nice mixture of wine commentary and personal tasting notes as he travels to tastings around the world. Goode’s scientific background often gives him a unique perspective and his site The Wine Anorak is well-regarded in industry circles, as well as his column in the Sunday Express. He is also a contributor to The World of Fine Wine – this unique publication is considered by many to be the best of its kind. Released quarterly, its hefty £30 price tag might make the most dedicated oenophile mutter ‘I could have bought a decent bottle of claret for that’, but its elegant, glossy feel and thoughtful features by contributors whose names read like a ‘who’s who’ of the wine industry make it worth every penny, for the investor as well as the wine lover.
Jancis Robinson’s column in the FT as well as the Purple Pages on her website, for subscribers only, also offer an excellent resource. Of course there are many excellent resources online that you don’t need to pay for – blogging, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook offer outlets for anyone who has ever had anything to say about wine to just go ahead and share it with anyone who will listen. But that doesn’t mean you should. To be well informed is to listen to different perspectives, whether we agree with them or not. Find your own style and a handful of informed writers that you can identify with, and you will find that wine writing need not be the dull, stuffy profession that you might have thought.