Writing About Wine

Wine is visceral, sensual, sensorial. When you begin a story about wine, you must switch on your reader.

Albariño - Bonny Doon Vineyard
Wine is visceral, sensual, sensorial. When you begin a story about wine, don’t write,

I arrived at the winery just after noon. I was late but they’d held my appointment open anyway.

Time is an abstraction. Appointments are abstractions. Late is an abstraction. And who is this mysterious they?

Write instead,

The day was hot, nearly ninety degrees, as I swerved my rental car into the dusty lot. I stuffed my notebook into my bag and grabbed my phone. I hate being late, I hate being late, I hate being late. Crickets screeched and flailed themselves away as I kicked a plume across the lot, tilting toward the winery door. Squinting against the midday sun, I scanned the vineyard rows for glints of fruit, the pungent, sour-sweet smell of the crushpad rising to greet me. I worked my hand against the smooth iron latch, then gasped as the cool of the cellar washed my skin. I was late, nearly an hour so, but at last I was inside, switched on, and ready.

And so is your reader. You’ve made him feel the heat, taste the dust, blink at the glare, brace for the rush. He has seen, heard, felt, smelled. His imaginative organ—his mind—is now alive to you, and ready to taste whatever you’re about to pour.

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6 replies on “Writing About Wine”
  1. Lizzy, true: this is not a straight journalistic approach. But I like writers who position themselves in the narrative, and show the reader a little of what’s in their minds. One might dial this back in a news story, but dial it up in creative nonfiction. It all depends on audience, and goals.

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