Being a drinker and not just a critic
Wine is one of those businesses where many people enter because of a passion for the product. They find it interesting, and want to spend their working hours involved with a subject that engrosses them.
That's why I decided to become a wine critic. While I loved science, and enjoyed being a science editor, I spent a lot of my time involved with rather boring editorial work, I wasn't my own boss, and I was paid badly. Worst of all, if I turned in an excellent performance, no one really noticed.
So I decided to begin writing about wine. I found out I was quite good at it, and I had some lucky breaks. I was passionate about wine, and this came across in what I wrote. I reached the fortunate position of being able to give up the day job (or, more truthfully, for the day job to finish and for me not needing to find a new one).
But when your hobby or passion becomes your living, you can easily lose that passion. Too much sniffing, slurping and spitting, and not enough drinking, can lead to a dulling of interest. I know a lot of people in the wine trade who hate to discuss wine. They are no longer (or never were) passionate about wine. For them, it's just a job, and that's a shame, I think.
Being surrounded by so much wine, you need to find a way to stay fresh. That's why I really enjoy taking my critic's hat off, and becoming a punter once again. Buying bottles and drinking them. Going to a restaurant and choosing off the list where someone else isn't picking up the tab. Visiting a wine region as a tourist with your family. All these things can help to shift your perspective back to the way the reader sees things, which has to be healthy.
I still really enjoy going into wine shops, picking up a few bottles, pondering for a while, and then making a purchase. It's fun. At heart, you see, I'm still the wide-eyed, enthusiastic wine geek that I was in 1996 when I started discussing wine on the internet with other geeks.