The causality dilemma ‘which came ﬁrst, the chicken or the egg’, which has tantalised mankind since time immemorial, can very much be applied to that rare breed of professional journalist who specialises in writing or broadcasting on the subject of wine. So, which did come ﬁrst? The trained journalist who later on discovers a passion
for wine, then specialises in wine writing, or the life-long wine buﬀ who accidentally falls into journalism through writing a small weekly or monthly column at the request of, say, a local newspaper or regional magazine, or guesting on a regular slot for a local radio station? Rather than dwell on the dilemma, it is useful to understand that in the world
of wine journalism, both species of journalist exist, and co-exist together comfortably. You will usually ﬁnd the journalistically untrained life-long wine buﬀ freelancing
for various authoritative specialist consumer wine magazines, consumer wine books and specialist publications aimed at professionals working in the industry. Many also contribute to online publications or have their own websites or blogs. These freelancers bring to the table with them a vast wealth of knowledge, often gathered over a lifetime, and their depth of knowledge concerning their own particular specialist area within the subject – for example, a speciﬁc region or wine producing country – can often be greater than those who actually work within that specialist area of the industry. Conversely, trained journalists who are latecomers to wine are often found working
in-house at the various consumer wine magazines and book publishers, and also within specialist wine industry magazines, as either writers and/or editors. They apply their journalism skills to the editing of work done by freelancers, and also to writing the bulk of the content for their publication, making sure all copy is tailored to their publication’s particular readership. To write eﬀectively in-house for a specialist wine publication requires a good working knowledge of the subject, and importantly the ability to turn out articles with sound copy; but although working in-house requires a sound all-round grasp of the subject, it does not require the journalist to possess a bottomless depth of knowledge in all areas of the industry equivalent to that which a specialist of a particular ﬁeld can bring to the publication on his specialist subject.