Oct 2015: This is very out of date so I'll update it soon-ish...
What on earth is a "wine writer" or "wine blogger" anyway, or indeed why, you might well ask? Oh, with a hint of sumptuous wine travel and eating thrown in too… "writing" that is. Funny thing to do I suppose but somebody's got to do it, especially as there are more and more of you "wine enthusiasts" out there... Previously, I lived in deepest south of France, and Spain for eight years and now I'm in the north of Ireland, as you do. The time I spent in wild Mediterranean country was largely devoted to slowly exploring the diverse wine regions of Roussillon, Languedoc, Provence and Catalonia (with occasional stints on the beach of course). Hence the in-depth bulk of material you'll find on my other blog French Mediterranean Wine focusing on wine people and other stuff in those areas.
Apart from thinking up, composing, publishing and trying to make WineWriting.com/ WineWriting.blogspot suitably famous, stimulating although time-consuming and so far not very profitable (potential advertisers please see blurb on the right hand column) ventures kick-started in 2002 and 2009 respectively, I write, or rather have written freelance for a variety of publications and media:
www.winetravelguides.com, Decanter, Time Out South of France guide (2004-2009 editions), www.winetourisminfrance.com, Off Licence News (UK drinks retailing fortnightly 1998-2007), Harpers (wine business and on-trade title 2002-2007), Wine Business Monthly (USA 2006), Redhot (in-flight magazine Virgin Express 2005), French Property News (2004), City Life Manchester (1998-2003), Wine magazine (UK 2002-04), Refresh magazine (2003), Class magazine (2002), Restaurant magazine and sister website therestaurantgame.com (2000-01), Virgin.net (2000-01), everywine.co.uk (2001), ICE magazine (2001), Home magazine (1999-00), Attitude magazine (1999) and Wine & Spirit International (1998-99).
I’m also a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and the Society of Authors. I'm still working on that great idea for a populist wine best seller that people will actually want to read and isn't yet another already-out-of-date guide, "branded" rehash or celeb ego trip (jealous, moi?)... let alone finding a publisher for it! In the meantime, I did venture "sideways" a few years ago into fiction (now out of print but a "new" e-edition has since resurfaced on Amazon). Now there's a thought: a European-set, Hollywood-esque wine film noir... Oh, I'm working on self-publishing a Roussillon/"French Catalonia" kinda e-book too (watch this space then).
Wearing my Wine Education Service hat when I lived in Manchester (England), I ran popular wine courses from 1998-2002 and I'm currently planning to do the same in the Belfast area (another space to watch then: more info here). Before that, I did occasional tutored tastings, consumer shows and market research for generic bodies such as Wines of South Africa and German Wines. Delving further into the past before becoming 'self-employed', I worked for a wine importer and producer for nearly ten years latterly as marketing manager.
As regards "professional" qualifications, I bagged the WSET Diploma back in the mists of time in 1989/90. And more recently, I passed the Master of Wine exams (tasting & theory papers) between 2002-2004; but seem to have lost interest in doing yet another boring formulaic dissertation about "methodology" (probably something to do with sour grapes and lack of funds)! But hey, never say never... What else might vaguely interest you: I spent four eventful years at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and escaped with a Master of Arts in French and German in 1987. The rest is, as they say, history and probably a touch dull. By the way, I also do wine translations and other editorial work: to find out more, send me an email!
Thought for the moment: with fine wine, less is more. I wish I could afford it...
Richard Mark James