If you can’t drink wine, write about it. #WBC14

It’s Saturday night, and my wineglass is empty. Thanks to an ornery throat bug, I’m on antibiotics, so this week’s post is not about vino. Instead, I will steal this opportunity to share what I learned about the craft of writing last weekend at Wine Bloggers Conference 2014.


Among the bountiful array of topics about everything that wine blogging entails, writing tends to get short shrift. Not this year. I was fortunate to attend a special writing workshop moderated by a panel of three prominent wine writers: Steve Heimoff, James Conaway and Mike Dunn. Along with 44 other brave souls, I submitted a piece of work in advance for critique by the three journalists.

Here are five things I learned:

1 . Don’t even think about writing a wine review. Why? Because it takes years and years of tasting and writing to be able to craft a fair yet engaging assessment that, to quote Heimoff, doesn’t sound like “a Princess Cruises brochure.”  (No offense, Princess Cruises. I have yet to sail the seas on one of your majestic vessels, but I probably just blew my chances of ever getting invited on a press trip).

2. Learn how to use a comma. It sounds basic, but in Dunn’s opinion (should I have put a comma after ‘but?’), most college graduates don’t know how.

3. Avoid these words at all costs. Breathtaking, enchanting, delightful, intriguing, thrilling, fantastic. Terrific list, no?

4. Speaking of lists, don’t use them. “List-ese,” says Conaway, can cause you to lose readers. (The irony is not lost on me that this post is a list. I hope you’re still there).

5. Humor generally doesn’t work, so don’t even try. This is where I get to issue a huge apology, chicas y chicos, for all of my past feeble attempts at making wine sound funny.

Oh, one last thing. If you really want to put people off, make your wine writing all about you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take an antibiotic.


5 thoughts on “If you can’t drink wine, write about it. #WBC14

  1. I liked this because:
    1. It’s a list!
    2. It’s funny
    3. Princess Cruises, are, by definition, no place for a wine lover.
    4. Reading it made me feel fantastic!
    5. Commas and exclamation points are beautiful unicorns.

    P.S. — did we meet at WBC? Not sure, but hope to meet you next time.


    1. Marcy!

      1. You rock. 2. I heart beautiful unicorns. 3. Not sure if we met at WBC… 4. …but if we didn’t, I hope to see you in Finger Lakes next year. 5. Thank you for reading.

  2. More than anything I was looking forward to meeting and chatting with Heimoff. What a let-down. His main criticism for my writing? I did not include alcohol content when I talked about the wine. Seriously? It was not a writer’s workshop so much as the three of them editing our posts. I did not learn anything about the “writing process” other than Heimoff reads his posts “30 times before hitting ‘publish'”. Glad to know you have that kinds of time, Steve.

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