jamie goode's wine blog: Being a drinker and not just a critic

Saturday, February 21, 2009

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.


At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Tim Carlisle said...

That's one of the reasons I gave up my blog, I still love wine and am totally consumed with knowing more and finding out everything there is possibly to know.

I love talking about it to friends, colleagues customers and even on occasions sales people.

I taste far more than I drink, but my wife is slowly coming back to drinking again which means finally there is someone to talk to about the wine I'm drinking again. I hate drinking alone - what is the point if you don't have someone to join you in your excitement.

But I started to find getting down to blogging a chore, I probably wasn't that good at writing anyway but as my daughter demanded more and more time I started to feel a sense of pressure to get posts out so I walked away from it.

I just wish that others in the trade who don't love wine anymore would do the same, I get really frustrated by reps coming around with wines that they clearly see as a commodity and nothing more. Some have fantastic wines that they fail to get excited about, they bring in a sample like it could be a 3 bottle of Chilean Merlot and it's actually a bottle of Ribera del Duero costing 80 a bottle and is superb but they will never sell any because they don't care about it.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Tim, it's a shame you gave up your blog, but I think it's something you have to do almost every day or not at all.

I think your shift of perspective is probably a healthy one.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Karl Laczko said...

It's good to see that you still have a passion and excitement about wine after all of these years, you have a 10 year head-start on me and I hope I'll still be as enthusiastic in another 10 years!

Apart from replacing 1996 with 2006 your last paragraph describes exactly how I feel.

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamie -

I came across your blog while searching google ... "become a wine critic". I was delighted to read about someone with a passion for wine, as I have, and has turned that into a living. I would love to get to the point where I can write a blog ... but where and how do I start ? I have been studying wine and took first exam recently. I plan to continue with this ... including just reading anythign and everything, i.e. the Wine Bible.

I would like to take some writing classes as well, considering this is not my background.

Unfortunately, being in Florida does not lead me to many options of wineries or vineyards -- but I certainly can take advantage of the few that are here.

As a wine lover, and aspiring to have career involving wine and travel, I would love to hear your suggestions, comments, advice, anything and everything !!!


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