One of the easiest and least expensive ways to learn about wine and which wines to purchase is to read articles in newspapers, magazines, and online sources. Those authors have the experience and have already done the research. Many of these articles are informative without being snooty or intimidating.
Wine With Our Family recently had the opportunity to chat with Dave McIntyre, wine columnist for the Washington Post, to learn more about his work and how readers can get the most out of his wine recommendations. Each week he writes both a news article about the world of wine as well as a review of several different wines. The wines he chooses are from all over the world but typically are readily available in local stores.
Wine With Our Family: How did you end up writing about wine?
Dave McIntyre: My wife and I took a trip to California in 1988. We chose to go to Napa for a day, and we were hooked. Writing about it became the way to learn about it, and we started collecting some wines. It was a lot of fun. Then we started visiting wineries around [the Washington, DC area]. I’ve also taken the first two levels [of instruction] from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
My first food article was in 1995. I then concentrated on wine writing and restaurant reviews.
WWOF: How do you determine what to write about each week?
DM: Since I’m a freelance writer, [the newspaper] gives me free rein and is very supportive. They want me not to be too wonky since it’s a consumer publication. They will sometimes suggest topics. For instance, they have asked me to think about Earth Day in April.
At the end of each year, I also look at the wines I’ve reviewed during the year and do a “greatest values” article on wines under $20 because they really overdeliver.
WWOF: How do you choose the wines to review?
DM: Again, it’s shaped by the nature of the publication. The wines need to be delicious or notable for some other reason. They should be value-oriented. I want to show people the value and not to choose a wine because of the label. The sweet spot for value is $12-$25 for a bottle where you get impact for quality. Above that it’s diminishing returns.
And I like weird grapes and unusual wines. You should come out of your comfort zone.
WWOF: What can readers do to get the most out of your recommendations?
DM: [If they’ve tried a wine I recommended that they liked], the best thing they can do is to get to know the seller at their favorite wine store, and ask that person if the store has anything else like the wine they tried. Because the salesperson knows, he or she can point you to something similar.
Also, wines list the importer on the label. If you really like a wine, go to the store and ask if it has any other wines from that importer.
WWOF: Do you have any other advice for readers?
DM: Pay attention to what you’re drinking [and if you like it make a note so you remember it]. iPhones take a nice bottle shot. ______________________________________________________________________________
We hope you enjoyed meeting wine columnist Dave McIntyre. We look forward to reading Dave’s articles in the future and sampling his wine suggestions.
Photo courtesy of Dave McIntyre. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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