On belonging

For two weeks each year, around April, I’m reminded what it is like to go to work. Like normal people do. As in have a job. It’s the International Wine Challenge (IWC), and as a panel chair I’m there every day. I commute by train to Vauxhall station, and then wander down to the Oval [...]

A new laptop

When you write for a living, the tools you use matter. But ever since I’ve been a freelancer, I’ve skimped a bit on laptops. In part, this is because I have been a desktop guy, and so the laptop has just been for use on the road. So I’ve bought cheap netbooks, and the odd [...]

A life of wandering in a world of place

I have committed myself to a pretty brutal travel schedule this year, at least until the end of July. Since the end of January I’ve been in New Zealand, California and Portugal, and travel to California again tomorrow. Then it’s Prowein, then Bordeaux, South Africa, a gap for the International Wine Challenge, then Champagne, then [...]

The role of wine critics

Yesterday I began a series of write-ups from the Wine Writers’ Symposium, starting with Jay McInerney’s keynote. This was followed by a panel session with Eric Asmiov, Virginie Boone and Ray Isle, looking at the role of wine critics. Wine critics often like to claim objectivity in their assessments; that they can step aside from [...]

Jay McInerney on wine writing

‘This has become a special part of my life,’ says novelist Jay McInerney, referring to wine writing, his parallel career. McInerney’s keynote kicked off the 2016 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in an entertaining fashion. As you might expect of a novelist, he’s good with words.

Jay first got into wine when he had a job [...]

Twitter's powerful metrics - how can I use them?

Very interesting to see the sort of data you can now get from Twitter on the way people interact with your posts. These ‘analytics’ or metrics are very detailed. But how can I use them, other than to convince people who might want to hire me or pay for me to travel to nice places [...]

In the Napa Valley for the wine writers' symposium

I’m just on my way home after a week in California’s Napa Valley for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. It was my first time at this event, which was held at the spectacular Meadowood resort near St Helena. [Aside: Meadowood is truly remarkable. Luxurious, discrete, tasteful and one of the best places I've stayed.]

On writing about wine

It’s generally a good rule for wine writers never to write about writing about wine. It’s something we find interesting (after all, it’s our career), but which is terribly boring and in-house for most readers, who really don’t care about the people and details that mean so much to us.

But, occasionally, I break this rule. [...]

Freelance life: being afraid of success?

This is an interesting thought. [It came to me all of a sudden, and I haven't been drinking.] As a freelancer – I’ve been completely freelance for almost exactly 8 years now – am I, in some strange way, afraid of success?

This seems a very odd statement. Why would someone who makes a living by [...]

On writing

Everyone wants to be a writer. At least, it seems that way. Few get to write for a living. But people so love to work with words that they are often drawn to occupations where they are dealing with other people’s words, even if they aren’t writing themselves.

I remember that when I worked as a [...]