Uncorking the life of a wine writer

Lavish trips to some of the most beautiful places in Australia and around the world, being wined and dined at leading establishments, a constant supply of complimentary wine delivered to the front door.

The life of a wine writer is often glamorous and indulgent, and despite occupational hazards such as constant trips to the dentist, the perks of being a wine reviewer make it a great gig.

So how does one make the jump from wine lover to wine reviewer? Well, it’s not easy, with plenty competing for a shrinking number of column inches and magazine reviews.

Industry veterans like James Halliday and Jeremy Oliver began by penning their own wine books, although they were still very much keen amateurs at the time. James Halliday also founded the Coldstream Hills Winery, dividing his time between critiquing, and producing many fine Yarra Valley wines.

Today, with numerous books and wine columns behind him, few would challenge his reputation as Australia’s leading wine writer.

Many other wine writers began by selling wine before moving into their writing careers. Huon Hooke is a great example, working in wineries and wine retail before going on to write his well-respected and long-running column in the Sydney Morning Herald. Like many, he recently moved into the digital age, teaming up with leading New Zealand critic Bob Campbell on The Real Review website.

For aspiring wine writers, there are many ways to enter the industry. The first step is to develop a wine palate: travelling, reading, tasting widely, and immersing yourself in the world of wine. There are also plenty of great qualifications to get under your belt, starting with university qualifications in oenology and viticulture.

Many aspiring wine writers choose to take the trade qualification route, the most widely recognised run by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London. For the really keen, the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine qualifications are likely the most testing and best training for the aspiring wine writer.

Get through one of these two mammoth challenges and you’ll be more than qualified to be a serious wine writer.

Need some inspiration? Join the reviewing community on Cracka Wines to get started.

Have you ever considered becoming a wine reviewer?

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