One of the perils with my line of work is that it can be so easy to allow negativity to seep into my writing. I’m strongly convinced that negativity is poisonous and it can easily taint a writer’s output if it is allowed to take control.
Of course, this is not unique to wine writing, and it’s something that all of us have to deal with in our general lives. But I’m prompted to write about it because there’s a lot of it about.
I’m not arguing for uncritical acceptance, or just a general, bland niceness. It’s vital to be critical; to ask questions; and not to simply act as unpaid PR for whichever wine company wants to get their message across.
Rather, it’s about the focus of a writer’s work, and the way it feels to read it. There’s a lot to be positive about in the world of wine; there’s also plenty to be negative about.
In the latter camp:
- International-style red wines at 15% alcohol with lots of new oak
- The hyper-inflated scores dished out by egomaniacal critics with questionable taste
- The anonymity and joylessness of many supermarket wines
- The vacuousness of some Instagram ‘influencers’ who buy followers and engage in mutual self-promotion drives with other influencers
- Ultracompetitive, self-promoting wine communicators who muddy the water for the rest of us who are friendly and collegiate
- Big wine companies who muscle out competition
- Environmentally degrading chemical viticulture
But if as writers we focus on the negative, it ends up tainting our writing. We end up being mean. We end up thinking we are better than others. We forget to be humble in the face of wine. We end up developing a taste for negativity; an addiction to antagonism. We will start looking for trouble and enjoying a good verbal scrap.
It’s very hard to escape a negative mindset when it is entrenched. We will find it difficult to praise, to be positive, to enthuse others about what’s good. And that should be our focus as wine writers: to find great things and tell people about them.