Taking Cues from Wine Writers: A Perspective From One Who Was At #IFBC15

In her keynote at IFBC, Kim Severson advised:

And it does hold true. While there is sometimes no other description for a delicacy other than “yummy”, as writers we’re supposed to evoke an image in our readers’ minds. How do we do that?

We share stories. Whether it be the story of how that particular wine came to be for the winery, how the name came about (some have very unique stories behind them) or even simply the winemaker’s story. These stories are what draw us in.

For some that don’t know wine, it’s hard to connect to a tasting note that reads, “notes of fresh cut grass on the nose, complementing lemon zest and bursts of honeydew on the palate.” However, if the wording is more along the lines of, “this wine reminds me of summertime with it’s hints of fresh-cut grass when you first smell it, and citrus and melon when you drink it,” and share a story that has to do with why those descriptors are coming to mind, the reader will make a connection.

As much as I love sharing stories (which I haven’t done nearly enough of lately), there is also a case for saying “yummy” as well. There are only so many adjectives to describe things! In Mary Cressler’s July 15, 2014 post responding to the Professional Print Media Panel at the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, she states:

For my blog, I think it’s absolutely okay (and often encouraged) to describe a wine as the “perfect” poolside sipper, porch pounder, party wine, gardening wine, or post-marathon wine. And as a consumer (because yes, I also buy a lot of wine with my own cash money), I actually appreciate the terms “delicious”, “refreshing”, and sometimes even “yummy”.

I get where you’re coming from James, Mike, and Steve. I do. You’re coming from an old-school print journalism standard, and I do respect that. But not everyone strives to be that kind of writer.

While I think Ms. Severson’s words do ring true in looking to wine writers to help with descriptions, remember that we’re also humans. We’re all out there looking for that “yummy” bite or that “perfect” wine. We all got into blogging for the reasons we did, and Mary nails it when she says that don’t all strive to write from a journalistic point of view.

Refraining from the use of words like “yummy” and “perfect” hides our authentic voice if that verbiage is part of our everyday vocabulary. Staying authentic to ourselves was the big message in Ms. Severson’s keynote address. So, by all means, keep using words that your readers can relate to. That what will keep our authenticity as bloggers.

Disclaimer: In exchange for a reduced rate, I have agreed to create at least three blog posts about the International Food Blogger Conference.

4 Comment

  1. Relatedly, chronology is a reasonable organizing principle for a train schedule. It is possibly the most boring organizing principle for a piece of writing. Find a way to play with time. You tasted the wine before interviewing the principal? You can still start with a quote from the principal. Start in the middle of the action.

    1. Alina says: Reply

      Exactly!! There are so many ways to tell a story!

  2. Mary says: Reply

    Interesting perspective– there are a lot of things about the old-school journalistic standards that are hard to hold to as bloggers. But I’d never thought about letting this one go, must be my English major background playing in there too.

    1. Alina says: Reply

      I have no problem with people utilizing the journalistic standards if you’re comfortable with them! I’ve done a lot of scientific/case note writing in my day, so I’m in the “the more concise, the better” category of writing.

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